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Full text of "The mortal gods and other plays"

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BOOKS BY OLIVE TILFORD DARGAN 

Published by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

THE MORTAL GODS and Other Plays. i2mo, nel, $1.50 
LORDS AND LOVERS and Other Dramas. i2mo, net, 1.50 
SEMIRAMIS and Other Plays i2xno, nel, 1.00 



THE MORTAL GODS 
AND OTHER PLAYS 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2011 with funding from 
The Library of Congress 



http://www.archive.org/details/mortalgodsotherpOOdarg 



THE MORTAL GODS 

AND 
OTHER PLAYS 

BY 



OLIVE TILFORD DARGAN 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1912 



Copyright^ 1912, hy Charles Scribners Sons 
All rights reserved 

Published November, 1912 



''^. 



-i^ ( 



CONTENTS 



THE MORTAL GODS 
A SON OF HERMES 
KIDMIR 



1 

107 
221 



THE MORTAL GODS 
A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS 



CHARACTERS OF THE PLAY 

HUDIBRAND, King of Assaria 
HERNDA, his daughter 
CHARTRIEN, a Prince of Assaria 
BORDUC, Prime Minister 
COUNT DORKINSKI, Court Chamberlain 



CORDIAZ, King of Goldusan 

MEGARIO, Governor of Peonia, a province of Goldusan 

REJAN LeVAL, a revolutionist 

SENORA ZIRALAY, his sister 

ZIRALAY 

RUBIREZ 

GOLIFET 

MAZARAN 

GUILDAMOUR 



nobles of Goldusan 



MASIO 

GARZA 

GONZALO 

YSOBEL 

GRIJA 

COQURIEZ 

IPARRO 



> of Megario's hacienda 



Guests, officers, musicians, peons, <&c. 

Time: Begins February, 1911 
Place: Assaria; Goldusan 



ACT I 

Scene: A vast room in the palace of Hudibrand. As the 
curtain rises the place is in darkness save for a cir- 
clet of gold apparently susperided in mid-air near the 
centre of the room. As the light increases, the outline 
of a mans figure becomes distinguishable y and the cir- 
clet is seen to be resting on his head. Gradually the 
rim of gold fades to invisibility, while the figure of the 
man and the contents of the room become clear to the 
eye. The man might be mistaken for an American citi- 
zen in customary evening dress. He is Hudibrand. 

At the left are two entrances, upper and lower. Rear, left, 
large windows. The wall rear makes a right angle about 
centre, the apex of which is cut of by a window. Right 
of centre the room seems to extend endlessly rearward, 
and is arranged to suggest an upland grove in the deli- 
cate, venturing days of spring. The ground, rising a 
little toward right, is covered with winter moss and tufts 
of short silvered grass. The trees are young birch, 
slight maples in coral leaf, cornel in fiower, and an oc- 
casional dark foil of cedar. A brooklet ripples down 
the slope and off rear. Birds chirp and flit, and now 
and then a breeze stirs the grove as if it were one tender 
body. The lights are arranged to give the effect of night 
or day as one wishes. 

It is winter without, the climate of Assaria^s capital city 
being similar to that of New York. 

Double doors lower right, through which Count Dorkinski 
enters to Hudibrand. 

3 



4 THE MORTAL GODS 

Dor. Your majesty, Sir Borduc has arrived. 

Hudi. Hot-shod. We'll let him cool. 

Dor. Where shall he wait, 

My lord? 

Hud. His usual corner. Keep him off 
My Delhi rug. 

[Exit DorkinsM] 
Poor Bordy's fuming ripe. 

[Re-enter the Count] 

Dor. His Excellency calls, your majesty. 

Hud. Which Excellency? They are thick as hops. 

Dor. The Governor of Peonia. 

Hud. In time and tune. 

We'll see him here. 

[Exit DorkinsM] 
A pawn of mine who'd push 
Beyond his square, and I must humor him 
'Neath meditative thumb. 

[Enter Megario] 

Hud. Welcome, Megario. 

Meg. I've travelled far 

To press your hand. 

Hud. We made appointment here, 

Knowing your visit to Assaria touched 
Nothing of state or office. 

Meg. [Accepting his cue] Nothing, sir. 

[Looks about him] 
I thought I left the springtide in my rear. 
Three thousand miles or so, but here it greets me. 

Hud. A gimcrack of my daughter's. She would freak 
With sun and time. My toyshop has no walls. 
I juggle too with seasons, climates, zones. 
But in the open where there's warrior room, 
And startled Fate may spring against my will, 
Giving an edge to mastery when I wrest 



THE MORTAL GODS 5 

The whip from Nature, turn it on herself, 
And set her elemental slaves to filch 
Her gold for me. That, friend, is play. 

Meg. For gods 

And not as thief, but as divinity, 
You take from crouching Nature. 

Hud. Men have said 

I pile up gold because its glitter soothes 
A fever in my eyes. The clacking fools! 
I am no Cheops making warts on earth. 
No mummy brain! God built my pyramids. 
Slaving through dark and chaos till there rose 
My iron-hearted hills, and mountains locked 
On age-unyielded treasure waiting me. 
There slept my gems till longing became fire 
And broke the grip of stone, — there lay my gold, 
Re-purged each thousand years till baited Time 
Gave up the master's hour. 

[Hernda has come from the grove and moves up to his 
side] 

Her. [Adoringly] And you the master! 

Hud. Daughter, you owe my lord Megario 
Some pretty thanks. 

Her. I give them, sir. 

Meg. No, no! 

I pray your Highness, no! My thanks to earth 
That bears the flower of you, and to the light 
That makes my eyes your beauty's treasurer, 
But thanks from you to me, as jewels hung 
Upon a beggar's neck, would set my rags 
Unkindly in the sun. 

Her. Then I am not 

Your debtor? 

Meg. Mine the debt, that mounts too fast 

For feeble payment from thin purse of words. 



6 THE MORTAL GODS 

Ah, every moment adds a suitor hope 
To th' bankrupts in my heart. 

Her. I fear, my lord, 

Your coiner*s name is Fancy, and I hke 
Truth's mintage best. [To her father] 

What is this debt of mine. 
So languished that a word of thanks may be 
Its slender cover? 

Meg. A word, if beauty speak it. 

May mantle a bare world. 

Hud. His Excellency 
Is Governor of Peonia 

Her. In Goldusan! 

Hud. And smoothed my road there- 



Meg. Nay, your majesty, 

My aid was but a garnish on the might 
That moves with your own name. 

Hud. Between us then. 

We saved my holdings through a bluster there. 
And what they brought me I've tossed here to make 
This smile on winter. 

Meg. What? You gave her all? 

Her. How, sir? One word of mine would robe a world. 
And my whole self not worth a little spot 
Twitched from Spring's garment? 

Meg. Oh, I'd grind the stars 

To imperial dust that you might trample them, — 
But this — this was a fortune I 

[To Hudibrand] Sir, 'tis true 
You care not for the gold. 

Hud. I care for it 

As men of hero times held dear the sword 
That made them lords of battle. 

Her. You are lord 

Of Peace! 



THE MORTAL GODS 

Meg. Write that upon the clouds, that eyes 
Of men and angels may contending claim 
The truth for earth and heaven ! 

Hud. Tush, sir, tush! 

Meg. Can I forget how at your kingly touch 
My fair Peonia, paling in treason's grip. 
Thrilled from her deathward droop, renewed her heart 
Through safe, ease-lidded nights, and woke once more 
The rose of fortune? 

Hud. There's no rumble now 

Of riot? 

Meg. Not a sound comes to our ears 
But from the toiling strokes that steadily 
Uproll Peonia's wealth. 

Hud. Yet those who led 

The last revolt are free. 

Meg. Not all, your Highness. 

A few crossed to Assaria, but expedition 
Warms on their trail. Rejan LeVal is tracked 
To your own capital. 

Hud. Nay, mend that, sir. 

We're safe here from such ruck. 

Meg. The startled eel 

Will make for muddy waters, — and 'tis sure 
LeVal found murky welcome here. 

Hud. My city! 

What mutinous bolt turns here for him? 

Meg. His friends 

Are friends of power. How else could he elude 
The thousand eyes in search? 

Hud. [Musing] Treason at court? . . . 

Meg. We'll mouse LeVal to 's cranny, do not doubt. 
Then we shall ask Assaria's great seal 
For his delivery to Goldusan. 

Hud. That is assured you. 



8 THE MORTAL GODS 

Meg. But your minister, 

Sir Borduc, warns 

Hud. Ha! Warns? 

Meg. He urges that 

The extraditing power is at pause, 
Blocked by the people's will. 

Hud. I've given my word, — 

A word that mobbish din ne'er added to, 
Nor yet stripped of one letter that I chose 
Should spell authority. You ask for more-f^ 

Meg. Pardon, your majesty ! It is enough, 
Beyond all stretch of need. 

Hud. I call to mind 

That Borduc waits, — and primed for tongue-work too. 
The princess will content your Excellency? 

Meg. [With obeisance to Hernda] 'Tis Heaven's honor! 
I have left the earth! 

Hud. You waste your art. She's in the milk-maid 
humor. 
Would marry Hob. [Exit, lower right] 

Meg. The Senor Hob? He says 
You'll marry him? [Hernda laughs] 

You care not if I die! 

Her. You'll live, my lord. 

Meg. You'll marry Hob. I die! 

Her. He is not Hob. That is my father's mock 
Because he's poor. 

Meg. [In hope] Ah, poor? 

Her. A beggarly 

Ten millions, — not a penny more. 

Meg. Ten millions! 

Her. But that's my joy. I would not wed for gold. 

Meg. O, pity me! I love you, seiiorita! 

Her. No, no! I must not hear that. 



THE MORTAL GODS 9 

Meg. Then I'll pray 

Silence to be my friend and speak my dumb 
Unuttered heart. 

Her. You must not love me, sir, 

But you may love — my father. When you praised him. 
You too seemed fair to me. 

Meg. I'll sing him till 

The stars lie at our feet, if you will listen ! 

Her. He gave your country peace? 

Meg. His royal name 

Is dear as Cordiaz' in the grateful heart 
Of Goldusan. That proud land lay unkept, 
Her ores intombed, her vales without a plough, 
Her rivers wasting down to shipless seas. 
Her people starving, while her nobles strove 
For shreds of power, — the clouted thing we called 
A government. Then on our factions fell, 
Strong as a god's, the hand of Hudibrand; 
And now, compact, we stand by Cordiaz, 
While every mountain groans with golden birth, 
And every river turns its thousand wheels. 
And every valley buried is in bloom. 

Her. My dearest father 1^ But I knew 'twas so! 
And they who starved are fed and happy now? 
They reap the bloom and share the golden flood? 

Meg. All will be well when once we've scourged the land 
Of rebels that drip poison from their tongues, 
Stirring the meek and unambitious poor, — 
Who sought no life but saintly, noble toil, — 
With strangest rage, till maddened they would bite 
The fostering hand of God. 

Her. We've prisons where 

We put such troublers. Has your land no jails? 

Meg. 'Tis full of them! I mean — ah, we have jails, 
But foes like these are wary, slip all watch, — 



10 THE MORTAL GODS 

Flee and dart back, our weariness their charter 
To tread with havoc's hoof. If I could find 
Rejan LeVal, then might I rest from guard. 
But not while he — unlassoed warrigall ! — 
May canter from his thicket and paw up 
Peonia's fields! 

Her. I'll lend an adjutant. 

Ask Chartrien, who knows each foggy nook 
And smirched corner of the capital, — 
Having once made his pastime serve a quest 
For such drab knowledge, — ask him help you find 
This traitor. 

Meg. Chartrien! Nay, the fox is safe 

When th' hound too wears a brush. 

Her. You mean the prince? 

Speak, sir! Who hints me calumny, 
Shall make the drum his chorus. I'll hear all. 

Meg. A rumor drifts through Goldusan. . . . 

Her. Is that 

An oddity? Here rumors are too thick 
For ears to gather them. 

Meg. But this — O, princess. . . . 
Fairest of earth, forgive me that I speak! 

Her. You do not speak. And that I'll not forgive. 

Meg. Ah, then, — but first, — is Chartrien near the king? 

Her. No nearer than his heart. 

Meg. I do offend. 

Her. Offence now lies in silence. Speak, my lord. 

Meg. When I left Goldusan, 'twas said— and with 
No muffled hesitance — Prince Chartrien aids 
The rebels there, and lays a train to rend 
The State apart, that Cordiaz may drop 
Into the gap, — then he with plausive cleat 
Will make the fissure stanch, and seat himself 
In unoppugned power. 



THE MORTAL GODS 11 

"Her. Why he is Hob! 

[Silence. They both rise] 
A mad and sorry tale, you see. 

Meg. I see. 

He's in the capital? 

Her. Beneath this roof. 

The palace is his home. My father holds 
His meagre millions guarded, nursing them 
To a prince's portion. 

Meg. We shall meet.^ 

Her. To-night. 

He's with a friend — a Spanish gentleman, — 
But not from Goldusan. 

Meg. I made no guess. 

Her. Deny that with your eyes. Your tongue's ex- 
empt. 

Meg. And may I meet the Spanish gentleman? 

Her. That's as he chooses. I may not command him. 
[Re-enter Count Dorhinski] 

Dor. His Highness, sir, is pleased to bid you join him. 

Meg. His pleasure is his marshal. [To Hernda, softly] 
I've your leave 
To love your father. That I go from you 
To him, is Heaven's proof I do. 

[Exit Megario and the Count] 

Her. The proof 

I seek, and would not find, is locked in Hell, 
Not Heaven. Megario lied. Oh, Chartrien! 

[Retreats slowly into grove and passes out of sight, rear. 
Enter, upper left, Chartrien and LeVal] 

LeV. No, 

Cha. Prudence, dear LeVal! 

LeV. I shall go mad 

Shut in this gilded den, — this stifling hold 
Of banditry. 



12 THE MORTAL GODS 

Cha. Peace, friend! 

LeV. I'd rather crouch 

With brats of grime upon an unswept hearth 
And claw my bread from cinders, than draw breath 
In this gold-raftered house of blood! 

Cha. Come, come! 

Your wits fly naked, stripped of every caution. 
And beat suspicion up that else might keep 
Untroubled bed. Whist! We must move rose-shod 
Through these next hours, not clack in passion's clogs. 

LeV. I'll out of this! There's surge in me no fear 
Can put in bonds. 

Cha. Nay, here and here alone 

Your life is safe. The hounds of Goldusan 
Sniff through the cellars. They'll not scent you in 
The royal shadow. That's more brilliancy 
Than ever lit a rush in houndom. This 
My home, I share with you, for mine it is 
Till I've secured my gold from Hudibrand. 

LeV. Ay, but Megario ! While he's here these walls 
Pen me in fire. 

Cha. His visit is too brief 

To be a danger. 

LeV. Danger! To me, or him? 

If we should meet, his fate as mine would be 
In that encounter. These are hands would see to 't! 

Cha. LeVal, forget 

LeV. Forget Celeste? My wife? 

Forget she died of blows while he stood by 
And smiled, because she was my wife ! 
Oh, God! Breathe air with him while this arm hangs 
A limp discretion! 

Cha. Peace! This mood unpent 

Will wreck us. Keep your room if it must swell. 
The princess gazes yonder, and your face 



THE MORTAL GODS 13 

Is badged exposal. Go. I'll meet her question. 
'Twill not fash honor if a lie or two 
Must be our guard. 

[Exit LeVal upper left. Hernda emerges from grove. 
Chartrien waits for her as she comes circuitously, lightly 
hovering and hesitating] 

Her. [At his side] What lover's this? — dreams still 
When love is by. Were he an olden knight 
He'd ride to tourney and forget his spurs! 

Cha. He would forget the world and fame and God 
To see your eyes like this ! 

Her. You tremble, Chartrien. 

Love so much? — yet stood here just — a stump — 

Cha. That felt you coming, coming like a bird, 
And watched and waited, envying every bough 
Where you paused doubting, till you fluttering lit, 
Down in the old stump's heart — 

Her. There, I've forgot! 

This is my lover ere that lure crept up 
From Goldusan. Since you came back, I've felt 
The shadow of a difference, and I've heard 
The maids of Goldusan can draw men's souls 
Out of their bodies for a dance in hell. 

Cha. My love! 

Her. O, Chartrien, are you mine? I feel 
A question in your worship. When your eyes 
Are warmest, love lies on them like 
The shallow moon-gleam on a deep, dark sea 
That is not kin with it. A sea that once 
Was mine, and I could go, with circling arms. 
Love-lanterned to its depth. But now the dark 
Is round me fathomless 

Cha. My own! 

Her. I try to rise, 
To find my wings — and feel the air again 
Without your drowning touch upon me 



14 THE MORTAL GODS 

Cha, Hernda ! 

Have I so nearly lost you? Come, beloved, 
Sit here, and let me vow me yours again 
Till in each word you feel my beating heart. 

Her. My stars shall hear these vows. 

[Changes the light to pale, evening glow. Rear, right, are 
glimpses of sky with frail, moving clouds, faint stars 
and a new moon] 

And see, my moon. 
Intent and virginal. 

[She sits, and Chartrien lies on the ground, his breast cov- 
ering her feet] 

Now, now my heart 
Holds not another thing but love and you! 

Cha. No thought of those dread wings? 

Her. None, none! And you? 

[Bends over him] 
All mine. I hold you now, fast in my world. 
Sometimes you enter, come within my door, 
And then I can not shut it for a wind 
That clings about you from a farther sky. 

Cha. [Rises and takes her face between his hands] There's 
but one sky ! 

Her. A shuddering breath, 

As from a planet strange, where you have walked 
And I shall never go. 

Cha. O, shut me in. 

Rose of a heart! I'll not go out though Life 
Beat at the door, and call her giant storms 
To knock upon 't. 

Her. Is this not life? And this 
The only world? 

Cha. The only world. My habitat 

One perfect hour. 

Her. One hour? Forever, love. 



THE MORTAL GODS 15 

Cha. O, vow it for me, sweet, — again, again! 
Till I believe once more in x\rcadies 
Born of a silken purse. In sunsets caught 
In tinted tapestries, with jacinth heart 
Gold-bleeding through the woven breath of dream. 
In soft moon-hours that drop from painted skies, 
In fairy woodlands aye unwintering, 
In love's elf-ring no boding star may cross, 
And you, my Hernda, sceptred in joy's name. 
Tossing the apple planets in your hands — 
These little, sovereign hands — as God might do. 
Had he, poor God, your power. 

Her. Love, you hurt. 

Cha. Ah, tears in Arcady.^^ 

Her. Oh, what is this 

Has come between us? 

Cha. What.'^ The universe. 

I can not reach you even when my lips 
Are on your heart. 

Her. May I not come to you? 

Cha. From this moon-world? No hope of that. 

Her. See then, 

The day! [Changes the light to sunrise] 
Now may I come? 

Cha. Forever playing! 

The way lies here. 

[Steys to window and opens it. A snowy blast rushes in] 

Her. Stop, Chartrien! Shut it! Oh, 

You've killed my Spring! 

Cha. You will not come? 

Her. You're mad. 

[Struggles with the window until she closes ity Chartrien 
watching her] 

Cha. You do not like that road. But it is mine. 
And children walk it. I have met them there. 



16 THE MORTAL GODS 

Her. Oh, I am frozen! See! 

Cha. [With sudden contrition, pressing her to his hreast] 

No, you are fire. 
A fire that I will clasp, though it should burn 
My holiest temple and betray my soul 
To ashes! 

Her. O, my love, what secret curbs 
Your nature to this chafe? It rubs even through 
Your ardor, — stabs me on your breast. 
May I not know it? Is not confidence 
Dear blood and life of love? Without it, ours 
Must pale, ghost-cold, a chill between locked arms. 

Cha. Is trust not love's prerogative 
More royal sweet than any burdened share 
Of secrecy? 

Her. Not to the strong! 

Cha. [Smiling] You strong? 

By what brave test dost know it? 

Her. And by what 

Dost know me weak? 

Cha. The proof awaits. But now, — 

Emilio needs me, — 

Her. Go! 

Cha. Sweet, friendship too 
Has bonds. Not all are love's. 

Her. He's ill, — your friend? 

Cha. As plague-bit life, — no worse. 

Her. You'll wait upon 

My father? Bid him but good-night? 

Cha. No, Hernda. 

Her. You shun him, Chartrien. I have watched you 
keep 
A curious distance, — ay, as though your heart 
Removed itself while your unwarmed eyes 
Made invoice of its treasure. Once you rushed 



THE MORTAL GODS 17 

Unto his counsel as security 

Hived in his word, and you, denied, were lost. 

Are those hours gone? If you have grown too large 

For his shrunk wisdom, bind you to his need. 

Age unsuspected crowns him, and you take 

Your young arm out of his. 

Cha. He wants no staff. 

Her. You'll go no more to Goldusan? 

Cha. I must. 

Her. And soon? 

Cha. When Hudibrand is pleased to free 
My fortune from his ward. 

Her. You want it all? 

Cha. Yes, all. 

Her. For Goldusan? 

Cha. My greatest need 

Is there. 

Her. What is that need? 

Cha. You question me? 

Her. May love not ask? 

Cha. If love could understand. 

Her. Have I grown dull? I do not know you, Chartrien. 
You're so unfeatured by that Spanish cloud. 
You're lowering friend. He is the universe 
Between our hearts. 111? No. I saw him here, — 
A tropic threat. 'Twas rage broke his suave guard. 
Not illness. 

Cha. Hernda! 

Her. The Lord Megario 

Has asked to compliment a brother guest. 
May he be seen? Does his unmannered storm 
Spare one amenity? 

Cha. Megario knows? 

Her. Knows what? 

Cha. Oh! — nothing. 



18 THEMORTALGODS 

Her. So much more than naught 

Your cheek is pale with it. 

Cha. No matter, Hernda. 

Her. An ashen matter truly, yet not light 
As nothing. But your answer. May our guests 
Exchange the roof -tree greeting? 

Cha. No. 

Her. Why not? 

That "no" trails consequence. It can not be 
Your period. 

Cha. They are enemies. 

Her. I knew! 

Cha. Megario dealt my friend a bitter wrong, — 
The foulest wrong that man may put on man. 

Her. He's loyal to my father. I know that 
Of him, — and of Emilio — nothing. 

Cha. Sweet, 

I beg one day! 

Her. One day? What's hatching here 

That's one day short its time? 

[Enter y lower right, Hudibrand, Megario, and Borduc] 

Cha. [Drawing Hernda aside] To-morrow, love! 

Her. To-night! 

Hud. You've won your suit, Megario. 

If by our presence in your Goldusan 
We can advance that sister country's peace, 
The journey's naught. We'll count it done. 

Meg. My lord, 

All revolution will dispel as air 
Before your eye. Our Cordiaz is great. 
But his familiar subjects are too near 
To take his height, while you they know to be 
Of giant measure; and when once they see 
Your majesties are brothered, Cordiaz 
Will grow your twin in stature. 



THE MORTAL GODS 19 

Hud. You've our word. 

Meg. I treasure it, — and lest repeated thanks 
Stale their sincerity, I beg to say 
Good-night. 

Hud. You have our leave. Good-night, my lord. 

[Megario bows impressively to Hudibrandy slightly to Bor- 
duc, and is passing out when Hernda, who has crossed 
right, intercepts him] 

Her. You leave us early, Lord Megario. 

Meg. I do not leave, your Highness. I am driven. 
I go to drudgery with my secretaries. 
Foregoing even the sleep that might have brought 
Your dreamed face to me. 

Her. Is't still your wish 

To meet our Spanish guest? 

Meg. He grants me that? 

Her. He has refused a meeting. 

Meg. Ah! . . . Refused. 

Her. But there's a way, my lord. When you have 
passed 
The second door without, turn to the left. 
You'll find a vaulted passage, — at the end 
An entrance to my wood. Come in, and wait. 

Meg. You grace me so? 

Her. It is not grace that breaks 

The covenant of salt. But who keeps faith 
With traitors? He is one, by every sign. 
An evil thing blown to our royal hearth 
Through Chartrien's open love that lets all winds 
Pour in. And I'll have proof of it! 

Meg. [Over her hand] You shall. 

[Exity lower right] 

Cha. [Crossing to Hernda] A long-spun courtesy, and 
with one merit, — 
It ended in good-night. 



20 THE MORTAL GODS 

Her. [Gayly] Unruly yet? 
A truce until to-morrow! 

Cha. You believe me? 

Her. I would not doubt you for a world compact 
Of virtues only, but it's no unreason 
To fear you are deceived. 

Cha. Dear Hernda 

Her. Come ! 

I love you, Chartrien. Let us have an hour 
As light as joy, as sweet as peace, and call 
Your friend to share it. He shall smile for me. 
I vow it, by his most ungentle frown ! 

Cha. 'Twill take your deepest magic, for his heart 
Holds naught that smiles are made of. 

Her. Bring him here. 

I'll make that heart my wizard bowl and mix 
Such sweet and merry potions in't, his griefs 
Must doff their gray for motley. You shall see! 

Cha. Art such a witch? [Exit, upper left] 

Her. What's this I do? My soul 

Leans shameward, but I'll trounce it up. The man. 
If innocent, keeps so, untouched and clear. 
If he aims darkly, creeps a weaponed hate 
Upon my noble father, do I worse 
Than cancel so the unwrought half of 's crime. 
And make him less a villain? 

Bor. May I speak 

Against this southward jaunt? 

Hud. Loud as you please. 

My Bordy, but I go. 

Bor. Your Highness makes 

Assaria bow too low. 

Hud. The State shall have 

No name in this. I go as Cordiaz' friend. 
Not as Assaria's king. I've interests there 



THE MORTAL GODS 21 

That sort with quiet venture. Give it out 
This move in part concerns my health. 

Bor. That much 

I welcome. You should rest, my lord. 

Hud. Ha? Rest? 

The twin of death! I'll rest when I am dust. 
Nay, then I hope that storm and hurricane 
Will keep me whirling. No, — I'll not go lame 
Even in report. Say that this move concerns 
My pleasure solely, — solely, Borduc. 

Her. Father, 

I have a suit. May I not go with you? 
I long to make that land where you are loved. 
More vivid than the dream that now it is. 

Hud. And find what lodestar there draws Chartrien 
From constancy? Well, you shall go. 

Bor. Tut, tut! 

Her. Dear father! 

Hud. This will give domestic screen 
And color to our tack. 

Bor. A gadding throne — 

Hud. Good Borduc, we w ill leave the throne at home. 
Do not you stay? 

Bor. I've some authority. 
You'll not dispute, my lord. Much as may go 
W^ith broad election. My investiture 
Lies in the people's choice. 

Hud. Ay, you're their bark 
Of freedom, where their pride may hoist full sail. 
But who wots better, Bordy, that 'tis puffed 
With winds that know my port? 

Bor, They think their choice 
Is free. Sincere in that, they give my post 
A dignity not even your majesty 
May mock me out of. 



22 THE MORTAL GODS 

Hud. Fools are noted most 

For their sincerity, — a virtue that 
Must stand a cipher if uncertified 
By wit or wisdom. 

Bor. Sir, Assarians 

Are not the fools you think them. They are men 
Who have the patriot's heart, and on their flag 
Where you write "power" their love reads "liberty." 

Hud. It does, praise be ! And they may keep their flag 
To wear around their eyes long as they will. 
For then I dance my measure, while they bump 
In hither-whither hoodman blind and pay 
My fiddler too! 

Bor. And what's my part in this? 

Hud. The fiddler's, Borduc. 

Bor. Sir? 

Hud. And your next tune 

Is Goldusan. Come, let's rehearse. 

Bor. My lord, 

[Exeunt, lower right, as Chartrien and LeVal enter left] 

Her. You've come, dear Sefior! Was it savagery 
To wrest the hour from you? 

LeV. Too kindly done 

For such a name, — though I was deep in bond 
To sober thoughts, your Highness. 

Her. Be so still. 

We would not force our humor on your heart. 
But share your own. 

LeV. [Smiling] Can you be sad? 

Her. As rains 

That drench October. As the gray 
That fringes twilight on the dark of moons. 
As seas that sob above a swallowed ship, 
Repenting storm. [Leads to seat, right] 

Come, sir, — and I'll be sad 



THE MORTAL GODS 23 

In what degree you choose, though I could wish it 

Nearer a smile than rheum, and not so heavy 

But that its sigh may float upon a song, 

A gentle song that might be sorrow's garland 

When moan wears down. Wilt hear one now, my lord? 

I have a music-maker yon whose lute 

Was nectared in a poet's tears the hour 

He lost his dream. Say you will hear him ! Nay, 

That courtier "y^s" can not o'ertake the "no" 

Sped from your eyes. We'll have no music. Yet 

The soul must love it ere one can be sad 

To th' very sweet of sadness. O, I know! 

LeV. I love it, but not here. 

Her. What here forbids? 

My bower! The eye translates its tenderness 
To fairy sound, nor need of pipe or strings. 

LeV. I can not hear the bells of fairydom 
When life is making thunder's music 'gainst 
This bauble house of play 

Her. [Rising] Sir, you forget 

LeV. Nay, I remember! 

Her. What do you remember? 

LeV. Ah! . . . Pardon, princess! 

Cha. May I mend this peace? 

Her. [Sitting again by LeVal] It is not broken yet. 

LeV. Your gentleness 

Has saved it, not my manners. 

Her. Oh, my lord, 

Would I had grace to cover sorrow's breach 
As smoothly as a gap in courtesy! 
Then you should smile ! 

LeV. I have a happiness 

That makes it thievery in me to take 
Your pity. You've a sadder need. 



24 THEMORTALGODS 

Eer. I'll yield 

No jocund vantage to that brow of yours. 
You hear this sombre braggart, Chartrien? 
Speaks as I were Despair's own fosterling! 

LeV. You are. As I am Hope's. Do you not gaze 
On earth's foul spots and cry "A sad world this!" 
"We must endure!" "The dear God wills it so!" 
And such and such like seed of misery 
Till hopelessness sprouts chronic? — building then 
Your house of life amid its smelling weeds, 
Where you may dance — or pray — till you forget 
Your creed keeps earth in tears? 

Her. And yours, my lord? 

LeV, Gives her a singing and forefeeling heart 
Whose courage cleaves renunciation's cloud 
That swathes her splendor and would sighing keep 
Her livid 'mong the stars! 

Her. You would divide 

Omnipotence with God, and arrogant, 
Assume the bigger half. But there are woes 
That even your hope, though it go winged and armored, 
Must fall before. 

LeV. Not one that I'll not face 

Until its features mould me destiny, 
The shape of radiance it shall wear for man 
'Neath an unslandered Heaven! I could not live 
If in the life about me I saw not 
The world within this world, and sped my hope 
The way that it shall take. 

Her. Is not that way 

Called Peace, Emilio? 

LeV. Not the peace that spills 

More blood than war, builds bigger jails, and leaves 
More waifs to suck the stunting, poisonous breast 



THE MORTAL GODS 25 

Of Charity ! Peace as white ashes spread 
Upon injustice' fly-blown wrack 

Her. [Leaving him] You are 

A revolutionist! 

LeV. And black to you, 

For revolution leads into the horizon, 
And must be figured dark to rearward eyes 
Though God beyond gives welcome. 

Her. [Coming gently hack] May we not 

Be patient even as Christ, who found this world 
The home of poverty and left it so? 
Did he not say the poor are ever with us? 

LeV. You too must tap that last and golden nail 
In th' pauper's coflSn! 

Her. It is the nail of truth. 

If Christ spoke true. 

LeV. Words uttered to his day, 

Not to all time. Not as a deathless brand 
Burning his own millennium. Not meant 
To take from man his goal, condemning him 
To hug an ulcer to the sick world's end, 
Which even your bosom must take to whitest bed 
Although your festrous partner be not guessed 

Nor visible. But if he did mean that 

That vicious thing — then he is false as hell. 
Denying man's bright destiny, — and I, 
Who vouch the triumph of an angel race. 
Am more a god than he! 

Her. You dare blaspheme- 



LeV. Because it once was said to men, whom worms 
Made dust of twice ten hundred years ago, 
"The poor are always with you," such as you 
Shall not forever pick your way to ease 
O'er broken bodies, lifting up white brows 
And hiding crimson feet! Daring to make 



26 THE MORTAL GODS 

The Christ your sheltering sanction while you feed 
On others' lives, and keep injustice sleek 
Even as you cosset that dim thing, your soul, 
And preen the wings you think bear you aloft 
The puddled world! 

Her. You lie! You do not know 
Our gentle hearts, our 

LeV. Gentle? O, you're nice, 

You later cannibals, and will not eat 
Of babes at table, but you'll pipe their blood 
From unoffending distance, while you pray 
Your conscience numb and swear the source is clean. 
Some dare to name that fount the Love of God, 
And kneel him thanks! 

Her. Oh, mad and impious! 

Who is this, Chartrien, you've dared call your friend? 
[Megario steps from the grove] 

Meg. He's dumb as prudence, but my tongue is free. 
This is Rejan LeVal, the man who hates 
Your father, — and my country's enemy. 

LeV. [Plunging toward Megario] Murderer! 

Cha. [Grasping LeV at] Come! At once! 

Meg. Your pardon, prince. 

I must delay you. I feared your sympathy 
Would gird itself 'gainst justice, and took care 
To balk escape. [To officer who appears behind him] 

Be off with him. You know 
Your road. No stop this side Peonia's border. 

Cha. Outlawry this ! Stop, sir ! You will not dare 
Kidnap him on this soil! 

Meg. [Laughs] Where Hudibrand 

Is king? 

[Exit officer with LeVal, lower right] 

Her. This strains your privilege, my lord. 

Cha. His privilege? My God! Did you . . . 



THE MORTAL GODS 27 

Eer. I did. 

Meg. No third voice here is cordant. I will leave you. 
My thousand times most gracious lady, thanks! 
Again I bid you happiest good-night! [Exit] 

Her. I am no adder, though your bitter eyes 
Give me that name. 

Cha. Not bitter. In my heart, 

That wrapped you as the South its dearest bud. 
There's nothing left to warm the thought of you 
Even with my hate. You are the crown, the peak, 
The unmeaning top of all to which I'm most 
Indifferent. [Turns away] 

Her. Look at me! 

Cha. I look, and know 

My eyes till now were cankered, look and see 
The whole fair lie you are. 

Her. Nay, Chartrien! 

Cha. The book is open. There the brow yet shines 
As God o'erlilied it, — an altar urn 
Stuffed with profane decay. Those are the eyes 
Like springs within a wood where no road leads 
With murking pilgrim dust, yet Innocence 
There paused looks up no more. That is the hand 
That as a comrade angel's took my friend's, — 
Reached out as though it parted Heaven's veil 
To draw his grief within, then clapped him down 
To Hell. 

Her. The place for traitors. Let him go. 
This moment is for us. 'Tis true your eyes 
Were cankered, and I thought by surgeon means 
To give them health, but deeper than the eyes 
This trouble's seat. Deep as your changed soul, 
That forfeits its divinity to link 
With an infection. Here you stood and heard 
Those poured-out profanations with no move 
Or sound of protest. That was left for me. 



28 THE MORTAL GODS 

Cha. What truth may pierce such ignorance, fatuous, 
thick! 
That man, — Megario, — with whom j^ouVe struck 
Alliant palm, twisted a lawless law 
To his deformed desire, and took the lands — 
The priceless valley lands of Cana Ru — 
From gentle dwellers there, whose titles bore 
The rooted claim of dear ancestral graves 
Nine generations deep, — and when they stood 
The guardians of their doors, faced them with guns. 
Dragged them to his bribed courts, weighed them with 

fines. 
And sent them to his burning maguey fields 
To slave and rot. 

Her, No — don't 

Cha. The lands were sold 

To Hudibrand 

Her. It can not be! 

Cha. Not be? 

That cry is stale as ignorance, as old 
As wrong. I've heard it till my ears refuse 
To register its emptiness. LeVal, 
It was, rose first against Megario, — 
Stood up and urged men to be Man, — and this. 
That makes archangels in the ranks of Heaven, 
Was treason upon earth. He lived — escaped — 
But not his wife. Anointed woman, such 
As centuries with conjoined virtues breed 
Once and no more! She was condemned, enslaved. 
And toiling in the steaming fields, fell down, 
Was flogged, and died. 

Her. ^No ! no ! no ! no ! 

Cha. So she 
Is free. But now LeVal goes back. My friend! 
O, giant heart! I see you stagger, drop. 
As feverous as the smitten earth 



THE MORTAL GODS 29 

Her. Who could 

Believe such things? You're wrong! You must — ^you 

shall 
Be wrong ! He was a traitor, bitter-souled, 
Undoing my father*s work! 

Cha. Farewell! 

Her, Oh, Chartrien, 

I did it for the best ! 

Cha. The woman's cry. 

She'd wreck a world, and from that earthquake piled 
Look up to say she did it for the best. 

Her, You will not go? You loved me one hour past. 
I am not changed. I'm Hernda still. 

Cha. The same. 

And yet I loved you. But no blush need burn 
The soul escaped enchantment. 'Twas a charm 
Enringed me with its bale till helpless there, 
And feeble as a babe in bassinet, 
I cooed away my manhood, — emptied time 
With infant fingering toward your protean hair! 

Her. You loved me! 

Cha. More than ever could be laid 

To madness' charge, or god that passion whelms 
With mortal longing till his skies become 
His prison, and dark earth Elysian ground 
Beneath the feet he loves! 

Her, \With arms beseeching] Here, Chartrien, here! 

Cha. Even when my eyes — so late — were wide to wrong 
That binds the race to pain's dread Caucasus, 
My mad imagination laid the gift 
Of seership on you, dreamed that you would go 
To meet the gleam of the delivering days, 

Her. With you ! 

Cha. Sail any sea of venture, beat 

Through any storm to make the prophet's port, — 



30 THE MORTAL GODS 

White priestess vassal to the truth that leads 
The planet into light! 

Her. Together, Chartrien! 

Cha. That was my dream. Then coming to your side. 
There was no life but yours, — no world that bled 
And felt the vulture feeding. Groans of men 
Grew still, or like the unavailing hum 
Of far-off, aimless bees, scarce reached my ears 
That heard, more near, as music from new earth, 
Your children call me father. Ay, 'twas but 
The storming undersea of passioning sex 
That breaking to the sky o'erlaid my stars 
And wore the mask of Heaven! That ebbless power. 
That spawning tide of Nature, by whose might 
She took primordial forts and made Life hers! 
Still does it tear belated, unassuaged. 
In wreck about the Mind's aspiring fanes, 
And shakes the nesting Spirit from her towers. 
Her heavenly brood unfledged! 

Her. Oh! Oh! 

Cha. Here — now — 

I beat it back, and go my way unmated 
Till beauty fair as yours has bred a soul 
And signals me! [Exit] 

Her, Stay, Chartrien! Oh, my love! 

[Falls. Curtain] 



ACT II 

Scene: A grove in the outskirts of a town in Goldiisan. 
Semi-tropical verdvre. Rocks, shrubbery, trees, at con- 
venience. A hidden cascade mumbles upper right, not 
loud enough to disturb conversation. At upper left, the 
pillared and vine-wreathed entrance to a mansion. A 
wall, rear, partly hidden by foliage. Paths lead off, 
right and left, lower, under trees. It is evening, and 
the grove is lit for revel. Gay flocks of people pass, 
then Heryida and Megario enter lower right. 

Meg. Unsoft as winter! Thou hast brought thy north, 
With thee, a frigid shade, here where the hours 
Are poppy -fingered, and their dreaming breasts 
Unshuttered as the summer! 

Her. Is it true. 

This joy, that smiles as though its fountained heart 
Could not be emptied? 

Meg. True as that I love you. 

Her. But if it is no mask, why should revolt 
O'ercloud your borders? 

Meg. There's no just revolt. 

Her. But Chartrien said 

Meg. Are you yet poison-tinct 

With that old rebel tale his credulous heart 
Dressed new in his white honor till both grew 
One sooty treason? 

Her. Where is Chartrien now? 

Meg. Wherever he may hatch a discontent 
And cluck us trouble. But of late he spurs 

31 



32 THE MORTAL GODS 

His heart of venture, and dartles to our towns 
To stir the scum there. 

Her. Scum? You've such a thing 

In Cordiaz' happy land? I'll see that scum. 
It breathes, does 't not? Has eyes, and tongue? 
Can answer if one speaks? 

Meg. You're merry, princess. 

Her. As graves at night. All is not open here. 
I shall go farther, — knock at doors where Truth 
Keeps honest house, not gowned for holiday. 

Meg. One want we have, — that you will stay with us 
And be the fairy soul of Goldusan. 
Then must our land, so measureless endeared. 
Be cherished as the darling care of Heaven, 
Where storm may breathe but as a twittering bird 
That fears to shake its nest. 

Her. You've only words! 

Words like these thousand-thousand smiles that seem 
Half real and half painted, — teasing, strange, — 
All feeding one illusion round my way 
Till even the ground unqualifies beneath me 
And makes each step a question. 

Meg. 'Tis the doubt 

You look through that transforms our face 
Of truth and paints us vaguely hued. 
O, for our many smiles, wilt not give one? 

Her. Nay, there's a darkness fringing on this grove. 
It creeps above the walls, it touches me, 
And makes me shudder winding at my feet! 

Meg. You've sipped of fancy at a witch's knee! 

[Plucks a flower] 
But see, — your serpent shadows nurture this. 
Confess to its perfection, and be shriven 
Of any thought less fair. 



THE MORTAL GODS 33 

Her, Oh, if I might! 

No, keep it. Let us find our friends. 

Meg. [Drops the flower] My hand 

Defiles it for you. 

Her. Nay 

Meg. Where is the fan 

I carried yester-night? 

Her. 'Tis— lost. 

Meg. 'Tis burnt! 

Her. What wind's your gossip? 

Meg. Truth paused at my ear. 

But, princess, if there's any charm will draw 
Your eyes to me unburdened of their hate, 
I'll find it though it lie beneath the ruin 
Of every other hope! 

Her. I'll leave you, sir. 

Meg. Forgive me! Love will speak, — ay, storm its 
need. 
Though each vain word pile up the barricade 
That fends the heart desired. 

Her. My lord, no hate 

Is in that barrier. I'm free of that. 

Meg. Thanks for that little much. Your highness 
speaks 
Of journeying. What can I say to gild 
My own Peonia till it distant gleams 
The gem of pilgrimage? There you will see 
How earth is dressed when the devoted sun 
Is pledged to her adorning. Trees that mass 
Their bloom in forest heavens, giving her 
A nearer sky. Unthwarted vines that scarf 
Her«mountain shoulders with their pendent clouds. 
Lakes where a dreamer's bark may drift unoared 
And chance no port save beauty. Everywhere 
The dart and wave of color that would beckon 



34 THE MORTAL GODS 

A neighbor planet looking once this way. 

Come, be my guest. One day ! I'll ask no more. 

Her. I do not know. Senora Ziralay 
Will be my guide. I go with her. 

Meg. With her? 

Her. What is't? I touch the shadow. You are not 
Her friend? 

Meg. She hates in secret, while her smile 
Levies the world for love. 

Her. I'll hate where she does, 

And know my soul is safe. 

Meg. Her husband holds 

By love and purse to Cordiaz, but she 
Is a LeVal. 

Her. LeVal? And kin to — him? 

Meg. Rejan? His sister. And I know her nature 
Is tinted as her blood, whatever hue 
It wears at court. 

Her. A sister to the man 
That I gave up to death. And I have dared 
To love her — take her kiss 

Meg. [Cautioning] She's here. 

[Enter, lower right, Senora Ziralay and Guildamour] 

Her. Senora! 

We spoke of you. 

Sen. And with such gloom? 

Meg. No, no! 

Sen. It lingers yet, my lord. Do I in absence cast 
Such knitted shadows? 

Meg. Safely asked of us. 

Who know your bright philosophy. How fares 
That magic broom with which you'd sweep the earth 
Of every ill? Is't still invincible? 

Sen. Much worn of late, my lord, as you should know, 
Who give it work. 



THE MORTAL GODS 35 

Meg. You'd leave us not one grief 

To keep us praying and rebuilding Heaven? 
Abolish Death perhaps? 

Sen. True mock! I would 

Except the death that's like a waiting bed 
When not another turn may mend the day; 
When sleep is sweeter than the thumbed book, 
And hearth-near voices drowse like waves that lap 
Shores unconcerned. Now we are murdered, all. 

Meg. No, no, Senora! 

Gui. Ay ! Do we not vaunt, 

And set it rarely down, a thing to note. 
If age unmoor the life -disused raft, 
For th' chartless cruise? 

Sen. Now we go hurried out. 

With half our dreams unpacked, and earth made poor 
With a few grains of dust where should have risen 
Our wisest years in flower. 

Meg. Fate, fate, Senora! 

Sen. What's fate but ignorance? And not always that 
Comes hobbling with excuse. Sometimes a man, 
Whose eyes fling lances at the foes of Life, 
Is knouted from the world 

Meg. No more, I pray] 

This is a festal night. Reserve your sermon 
For our next fast. 

[A musical group plays softly under trees left. Enter 
lower right, Hudibrand, CordiaZy RuhireZy VardaSy Zir- 
alayy and others] 

Hud. Here, daughter? You've been sought. 

Cor. The search was mine, your highness. I would beg 
A grace of you. 

Her. You grant one as you beg. 
Your majesty. I'll not do less than give 
Your own again. But pray you name it, sir. 



36 THE MORTAL GODS 

Cor. This garden where our amity has borne 
Its fairest blossom shall be called henceforth 
The Grove of Peace, and we would beg your highness 
To queen our christening. 

Her. A queenly part. 

And royally I thank you, but I'll play it 
With humblest prayer that Heaven may keep unbroken 
These new-sworn bonds between my land and yours. 

Cor. So pray we all. 

Her. Is this our scene .'^ 

Cor. Not here. 

Come you this way, my friends. We'll cast the wine 
To yon cascade, and let the waters bear it 
Down to my capital. 

[All go off upper right, except two officers, who remain 
centre, and a guard who walks to and fro by wall rear, 
sometimes visible, sometimes hidden by the wood and 
rocks] 

First Off. This peace will prove 

As stout as any spide^-'s thread that swings 
In a blowing rain. Fah ! 

Second Off. Climb what hill you please. 

You see the rebels' smoke. 

First Off. But where in name 

Of magic does Bolderez get his gold? 
The rebels we pick up have lost no meals. 

Second Off. Enough he gets it. Goldusan sleeps well. 
Bolderez is so near that if his men 
Were eagles they could pick out Cordiaz' eyes 
And he'd not wake to miss 'em. 

First Off. Cordiaz 

Is not asleep, but so bedimmed and fooled 
By a thievish Cabinet that what he sees 
Takes any name they give it. 

Second Off. He is old. 



THE MORTAL GODS 37 

First Off. Ah, there you hit it. Warriors should die 
young. 
When age unsoldiers them their field-worn hearts 
Have no defence against a crafty peace, 
And falling power will seize on any prop 
Be't foul or fair, to keep on legs. 

Second Off. My faith! 

His crutches are so villanous, a fall 
Were better than his gait. 

[Enter Ziralay, lower right] 

First Off. Well, Ziralay, 
What news? 

Zir. Where's Cordiaz? 

Second Off. He comes. 

[Re-enter group from the cascade] 

Zir. [To Cordiaz] My lord, 

The Assarian prince is captured, and is held 
Within the town. 

Cor. What? Chartrien? 

Zir. Yes, my lord. 

Cor. Fit period to this dedicated day! 
Our gentle bonds are now forged whole. The man 
Who was Bolderez' hope, most luminous 
Of all who drew rebellion to him, now 
Is darkly fallen. 

Ruh. This golden aid cut off, 

Bolderez stands so bare his nakedness 
Will sprint to nearest cover. 

Cor. I'll see his face. 

Bring here the prisoner. 

Off. I'll speed the order. 

Your majesty. [Exit] 

Rub. Shall he be shot, my lord? 

Cor. Shot? No. But kept close prisoned. 



38 THE MORTAL GODS 

Ruh. That is mercy 

You have denied the blood of Goldusan. 
Why grant it to Assaria? 

Var. In him swells 

A strength was never in LeVal. I urge 
His instant death. 

Cor. No, friends. He is a son 

Of our great neighbor, and his death would wound 
The courtesy of nations that is kept 
By lenience unabraded. 

Var. Breath so bold 

Will from a prison fan the treachery 
Whose flame would die without it. 

Her. Father, speak! 

Cor. We'll hear our friend, Assaria's majesty, 
If he have word for us. 

Hud. I pray your highness 

To let no ghostly and unfounded fear 
Of my Assaria 

Cor. Fear, my lord? 

Hud. I mean 

No more than ask you to be just, nor let 
My presence here enforce your chivalry 
To do your country wrong. Think of your people. 
Not the approval of a gazing land 
Whose distant nod is given in ignorance 
Of your stern cause. 

Her. Here's not my father! So 

The clock runs backward, and time ends. 

Meg. [To Cordiaz] Your highness, 

My voice is not so loud as others here. 
But could I send it far as sound may go, 
It should take mercy's part in this debate. 

Var. You need no trump, my lord. A limpet's whistle 
Would tell us where you stand. 



THE MORTAL GODS 39 

Meg. I stand with Cordiaz, 

His majesty of Goldusan! 

Cor. This matter 

Is not for open market. Come, my friends, 
Let us go in. Please you to walk before. 

[Rubirez, Ziralay, Vardas, and Megario enter the house, 
upper left. Their majesties linger at entrance. Guild- 
amour retreats on path, upper right. Officers go off, 
lower left. Hernda and Senora Ziralay wait unno- 
ticed, right] 

Cor. Is't kindly done, my lord, to pose your station 
In public against mine? 

Hud. My neutral words 

You've packed with import all your own. I strive 
To bend not right or left, but keep my way 
As even as Justice. 

Her. [To Senora] Justice! There's a stone 
That was my father. 

Cor. Yet, my lord, this prince 

Is of your house. 

Hud. Is it for Cordiaz 

To teach me mercy .^ 

Cor. By my soul! 

Hud. I know 

Whence starts this softness. Mercy has no fane 
Where you leave offering. 

Cor. I know you too ! 

By holy Heaven, your head was never bared 
In Justice' temple! You now seek my fall, 
Because I've turned at last to check the hand 
That rifles Goldusan. Is't not enough 
That I've unjewelled all her treasured hills 
To alien avarice — that her forests bleed 
The priceless sap of all primeval Springs 
Into your golden stream? But I must lay 



40 THE MORTAL GODS 

My people under bond, — sell them as slaves 
To buy your stolen railways ! 

Hud. Stolen, sir? 

I've paid 

Cor. I know what you have paid ! You've sent 
Your henchmen creeping in the night, to buy 
At beggar's price our toil-built roads, and where 
You could not buy, you bribed and thieved, till all 
Was yours ! 

Hud. What of my toil, that built the lines 
Through half your provinces? 

Cor. You paid yourself! 

Took from my governors, half gulls, half thieves 
Of your own breed, a hundred times the worth 
Of every graded foot, in lands and mines 
And water-power that holds the prisoned light 
Of robbed futurity ! Now we must buy 
Once more those tracks, long over-bought, — pay you 
A value centuple for every mile, — 
Pay you in bonds — bonds in hell's verity — 
Whose interest will outrun each reckoned year 
The summed returns from our fool's purchase! No! 
That is my word while I am Goldusan ! 

Hud. You wake too late. I'll tell you so, my lord, 
Since this imprudent burst thrusts courtesy 
From court. Your ministers have given assent 

Cor. Have given ! You'll over-steal enough 
To quit their boldest price! 

Hud. I'll not defend 

Your chosen servants, sir. 

Cor. My servants! Oh, 
What State is free from scuttling greed that bores 
For treasure through the stanchest hold? 

Hud. This moral chant comes late from you, my lord, 
Who've fingered heavily in many a pie 
Spiced in the devil's kitchen. 



THE MORTAL GODS 41 

Cor. But to sell 

My people! Pay you this devouring price 
For stock that barely yields the groaning third 
Of interest on your bonds ! What shall we do 
To pay it? Rob our treasury, and ask 
Our worn-out slaves to fill it up again? 
Not ask, but goad and lash, — for you must have 
Your own — you honest mortgagees of babes 
Unborn 

Hud. Is all the scarlet on our hands? 
What of that mountain province, sold entire 
To foreign pockets, and the dwellers there 
Torn up like shrieking roots and cast abroad 
To fasten where they could? 

Cor. And where was that 

But in your hell-mouthed mines? You wanted slaves, 
And got them. 

Her. I shall die, Seiiora! 

Sen. Listen! 

Hud. The tyrant Cordiaz grown pitiful? 
Then stones are butter, alabaster is 
Uncrumpled down. You should have wept before 
The Pueblo strike, then fewer corpses had 
Gone out to sea. 

Cor. Don't name that thing to me! 
Don't speak of it ! I will not bear that curse ! 

Hiid. Mine aged convert, lies it in your will, 
Or juster Heaven's? 

Cor. 'Twas your property 
My troops defended — and Rubirez lied. 
Swore that the men foamed mad as tusked beasts, 
And must be trashed to place, — men who had asked 
No more than bread when you shut up your doors • 

Hud. Not I, my friend, .. „ 



42 THE MORTAL GODS 

Cor. Your tool then. One of all 

Your million hooked hands fast in the heart 
Of my poor country, shut your doors, thereby 
To starve the wretches till they crawled to you 
And begged their chains again. But they — their veins 
Were not all tapped — they'd blood left, and arose 
From their dumb prayers to fight for life — and then. . . . 

Hud. You sent the troops. 

Cor. Because Rubirez lied! 

Hud. Because you knew there'd be no after-sale 
For your high favors, once let titles drift 
Unguaranteed. And when your work was done — 
Your work, my tear-washed saint, why weary patience 
Could not take further time to count the dead, 
Or dig so many graves. They were piled up 
And carted to the sea 

Cor. Oh, every tide 

Brings back their faces — staring, staring up! 
Will God not answer them? 1 dare not shut 
My eyes. . . . 

Hud. And this is why you weep so late.'^ 
Come, Cordiaz, you're broken. Leave a throne 
Your own fears shake. You know that I must win. 
Own you are mastered 

Cor. Mastered! While I've breath 

I am a king. If I win peace of God, 
And his white angel let my dark soul out, 
'Twill be for this — the last throe of my strength 
Was spent against you ! 

Hud. Madly you've uncased 

Your madness, and I know my weapons. 

Cor. So! 

I too, my lord, know how to sleep and wake 
With hand on steel. 

Hvd. Then is there more to say? 



THE MORTAL GODS 43 

Cor. Airs said. We're waited for. Assaria, 
Will't please you enter? 

Hvd, I thank you, Goldusan. 

[They go in] 

Her. Don't comfort me, Senora. Not a breath. 
I'll not disfigure shame with comfort's patch. 
But droop as low as leprous dust, and take 
Some pride in that. 'Tis dark here, dark. Pray God 
I am asleep! 

Sen. Dear princess! 

Her. Men do well 

To keep the women blind. If once they knew. 
They'd breed no more, but let a bairnless world 
Escheat to God. Yet you, Senora, knew. 
And you have children. By your motherhood 
You've bound you Life's accomplice, — given it heart 
And veins and an accepting soul! 

Sen. 1 have! 

Deny our hearts these babes, and we deny 
The future that we fight for. Ah, defeat 
May be endured by those who hold in lap 
The victors of to-morrow! 

Her. Oh, my father! 

Sen. This truth was edged and swift. You should 
have had 
Love's lips to teach you 

Her. I've been taught, my friend. 

But would not learn. [Rising] Senora, it was I 
Betrayed your brother! 

Sen. Yes. ... I know. 

Her. To death! 

You do not understand. I killed him! 

Sen. No. 

There, love, — forget a little. I've a hope 
He is not dead. 



44 THEMORTALGODS 

Her. Not dead? What gives you hope? 

Seri. Perhaps the nameless mentor in the heart 
That tells us when our loved shrines are lit 
And when they're out forever. But there's more. 
Whenever Lord Megario's eye meets mine 
There's something couched there speaks me living wrong, 
Not wrong that's ended — locked within a grave 
No prayer may open. He is burning yet 
With uncompleted vengeance — and its sha.me. 

Her. Senora, you've a plan! 

Sen. 'Twill take much gold. 

Her. Ah, I have that. 

Sen. And courage. 

Her. Well! 

Sen. Such as, 

We're told, no woman has. 

Her. Here is my life. 

And any Fate may have it that will make 
Your brother live. Will you forgive me then? 

Sen. [Kissing her] Ah, dear, you could not know. . . . 

Her. How did you hear? 

Sen. From Chartrien. 

Her. You are friends? 

Sen. So true he seems 

Not friend but friendship to my soul. And I 
Talk here, while yonder he 

Her. They dare not! No! 

My father would. . . . My father? Oh, Senora! 

[Sobs hopelessly] 

Sen. We'll find a door to this. 

Her. Would Ziralay 

Not help? 

Sen. Had he the wit, he would not dare. 
While I'm his wife he must keep double guard 
Against suspicion. .. 



THE MORTAL GODS 45 

Eer. Oh! 

Sen. If there's one true, 

'Tis Guildamour. I'll go to him. 

Her. At once! 

He took that path. 

Sen. I know what shade he seeks 

When he would brood. 

[Exit Sefiora, iipper right. Hernda waits drooping, as if 
too weary for thought. A group of ladies and gentle- 
men enter, loiver right, among them Guildamour] 

Her. [Starting up] Oh! — Guildamour! 

Gui. Your highness! 

[Leaves his party chattering lower left, and crosses to 
Hernda] 

Her. Sefiora seeks you. 

Gui. Ah, about the prince .^^ 

Her. We have a hope, my lord, your hand may turn 
Some stone of rescue. 

Gui. Mine are powerless hands. 

Pinned to inaction's cross. My eyes may turn 
No way that is not watched. To lift my lids 
May raise a cry of "Treason!" 

Her. There's no help? 

In all this land no help? 

Gui. Megario, 

Could he be softened to it, is the man 
Who might with safety slip a secret bolt 
For Chartrien. 

Her. He! 

Gui. His name is set above 

The nick of treason by his stern dispatch 
Of poor LeVal, — and, that struck off, he yet 
Is chronicled so dark that none would lay 
A fair deed at his door. 

Her. Megario ! 



46 THE MORTAL GODS 

Gui. I would not name him, but I know he loves you, 
And there's no soul that love may not endue 
With tinge of Heaven. 

[Re-enter Senora] 

Her. Senora ! 

Sen. [Panting] I have seen him! 

Gui. The prince? 

Her. Not Chartrien? 

Sen. Yes ! 

Gui. Escaped? 

Sen. The guards 

Were of our heart — they let him make the wood — 
I've hidden him 

Her. Oh, where? 

Sen. Within the cave 

Veiled by the waterfall. But safety there 
Is minute-frail. 

Gui. What way? He'll chmb the wall? 

Sen. And drop into the river. 

Gui. Yes. What guard 

Walks there? I see. 'Tis Miguel. And I know 
Somewhat of him, — more than he'd tell the winds. 

Sen. Thank Heaven for a sinner! When he's next 
Behind the rocks, then to him, Guildamour, 
And be his palsying conscience. Peg his feet 
To the earth! 

Gui. Trust me, Senora! 

Sen. I'll lead off 

Those babblers. Princess, you're the watch, — ^you'll give 
The signal. 

Her. Ah! What is 't? 

Sen. Two pebbles dashed 

Into the water is our sign. 

Her. The guard! 

He's gone! 



THE MORTAL GODS 47 

Gui. It is our time. [Exit into wood, rear] 

Her. [As the talkative group move up] Take them away, 
Seiiora! It would kill me now to meet 
A painted smile. 

Sen. I'll go. And you — be swift. 

Don't stop — don't think. [Joins group] 

I know where lordings three 
Wait for as many maids. 

A young lady. You saw them pass? 

Sen. Disconsolate. 

Young Lady. O, to the river! 

Another. Come ! 

[They go off with Senora, lower left] 

Her. Now! [Takes up two stones. Ziralay and Megario 
come out of house] Oh! [She drops the stones. They cross 
to her] 

Meg. You wait? 

Her. I read the sentence. 

Zir. Death. 

Her. And when? 

Zir. To-night. They've given Vardas charge 

Of 't. He's an eager butcher, — does not know 
Delay. 

Her. You wished his death. 

Zir. I voted no. 

Megario laid my doubts. 

Her. Did he do that? 

Zir. He countered to their teeth. 

Her. [To Megario] So merciful 
Is hate? 

Meg. The prince's death would mean the fall 
Of Cordiaz, and our houses rock with his. 

Her. Be clearer, pray you. 

Meg. Vardas wants the throne. 
And we've a sour and guilty faction here 



48 THE MORTAL GODS 

Who'd see him on it, but they dare not move 
Against a king yet rich in arms and friends. 
And Hudibrand is not so absolute 
That he may turn the army of iVssaria 
On the sole pivot of his word. For that, 
Even he must knock the sleeping nation up 
And ask good leave. 

Her. You'd say, sir, Hudibrand 

Would favor Vardas? 

Zir. Short and plain, he does. 

Her. What then? 

Meg. The Assarians are proud, and where 

They think their honor's pricked, their pride out-tops 
Their judgment. Chartrien's death, whose ugly weight 
Must lie with Cordiaz, will inflame their hearts 
Till Hudibrand may send an army on us. 
His people clapping to 't. In open day 
They'll choose the road his cunning cut by night, 
And pray him take it. 

Zir. 4.y, and where are we, 

With Vardas crowned in Goldusan? 

Her. I see. 

Meg. He'd like my million acres in Peonia 
Sliced for his foreign hounds! 

[Enter an officer] 

Zir. What trouble now? 

Of. Prince Chartrien has escaped. 

Meg. And you in charge? 

Off. I sent him with good men, or so I thought, 
Being pressed to another way 

Meg. His guards, — what name? 

Off. Vinaldo, and a sergeant, who 

Meg. Vinaldo! 

He's on the blue list, turning fast to black. 
Did you not know it? 



THE MORTAL GODS 49 

Ojf. I held him, sir, the pick 

Of loyalty. 

Meg. Well,— on. What else? 

OJf. They reached 

The grove, passed in, and after prudent time, 
The guards came out, smug as all right, and now 
They're gone, — clear foot, — will doff you from the hills. 

Meg. A tale for Vardas ! You may save your beard. 
But not your neck. 

Off. I'll not shake yet. The prince 

Is in the grove. We'll soon uncover him. 

Zir. The walls are picketed? 

Off. A double watch 

Is on. 

Zir. That's well enough. 

Off. On chance he makes 

The wall, I've reinforced the river guard. 

Meg. Both sides? 

Off. A close patrol, both east and west. 

Though he had fishes' gills and dived the stream. 
He'd not get by. That way is fast against him 
As Belam's iron door. 

Meg. [To Hernda] You're ill? 

Her. No, no! 

I'm well — quite well. 

Meg. The lily in your cheek 

Lies not so bravely. 

Off. [To Ziralay] If he gets out of this. 
He'll steer around the moon. We'll find him, sir. 
But he's most darkly hid. Has made a coat 
Of leaves and plays the grouse trick on us. 

Zir. Come ! 

His majesty must know. [Ziralay and officer go into house] 

Meg. How may I help you? Let the service be 
Of such poor nature as your dog might give, 
And pride will whistle to it. 



50 THE MORTAL GODS 

Her. O, my lord, 

I half believe you. When our angels fall, 
Then devils are not black. And I have lost 
My father. 

Meg, Devils ! YouVe a tongue. 

Her. Forgive 

A heart unman tied, and too wild to choose 
What word may veil it. I would say, my lord, 
In this discolored world I now begin 
To find you fair, 

Meg. O, heavenly retraction! 

Her. And if I ask a service it will be 
No paltry one, but such as makes the king 
Bow to the knight. 

Meg. I'll prove this grace 

Is native in me, and not solely lent 
Of your new bounty! 

Her. Would you save the life 

Of Chartrien? 

Meg. I would. Though a treasonous tool 
Of rebelry, he should be held by me 
A prisoner of knightliest war. 

Her. A prisoner! 

Meg. You can not ask his freedom! That would give 
My foes clear argument to pluck me bare. 
And set me outlawed on the rebel side 
Of this deplored division. 

Her. Oh, not free! 

And in your power! 

Meg. To hold him prisoner, — that 

I'd undertake, and make the action good 
Even to this bloody council. 

Her. You'd dare that? 

Meg. My policy is open, and I'd dare 
To put it into deed that must commend me 
To their unwilling justice. To do more 



THE MORTAL GODS 51 

Would disarray all sense, — be fullest like 
The idiot's gesture that disrobes the wretch 
Of his last sanity. 

Her. Megario. ... 

Meg. What secret is so dear these costly sighs. 
Like gentle pickets ever reinforced, 
Let it not pass? ^ 

Her. A secret? No! 

Meg. But yes. 

I push me by its fragile guardians, 
And hear it beating in its citadel. 

Her. What says it then? 

Meg. You've seen the prince. 

Her. My lord! 

Meg. You know what shadow hides him. 

Her. No, no, no! 

My oath, sir, I've not seen him ! 

Meg. I would trust 

One negative, not three. Give him to me, 
And you will know he lives. Let him be found 
By Vardas' men, and when you wake to-morrow 
The earth will be without him. 

Her. No, not you ! 

I'll go to Cordiaz. He'll save the prince 
As he would save his throne. You've taught me that. 

Meg. He'd lose it so. Should Cordiaz to-night 
Set Chartrien free, he'd rise without a lord 
To bid him one good-morrow. 

Her. Ziralay. . . . 

Meg. Ask him? An ass whose ears if visible 

Would signal Mars ! Say he had courage for you, 
He'd blunder with the prince to Vardas' arms. 

Her. Ah, 2/ow could do it, — set him free! 

Meg. Nay — don't — 

Don't ask it, if you've mercy ! Your highness knows 



52 THEMORTALGODS 

I could not grant so much though Hps I love 
Above my soul should beg that treason of me. 
Though they should take again those dearest words 
That knighted me, and now lie in my heart 
Like swelling seed of fortune! Let me shield 

His life. In saintliest trust [She shudders from him] 

You fear me so? 

Her. I do! I do! You took away LeVal, 
And he no longer lives. 

Meg. He does! My oath, 

He does! 

Her. You spared him? 

Meg. By my soul, he lives ! 

But let the word sleep in your vestal ear, 
Until these smouldering troubles die to dust 
And feed the grass above them. For the State 
Believes LeVal is dead, nor taints me with 
Such treacherous clemency. See how I lay 
My safety and my honor in your hands? 
I give them, hostages for Chartrien! 
Ah, you should know how I will guard your trust, 
For when I say to you he does not live, 
Your eyes will slay the single, nurturing hope 
Of my own life! 

Her. [Battling] I can not! I'm not Fate 
To do her awesome work. 

Meg. We aid her most 

With passive hand, as Chartrien's ghost will come 
On mourning nights to tell you. 

Her. Oh, I'll speak! . . . 

No, no! Ah, never, never! 

Meg. [Resolute, giving up his suit] I must join 
The hunt. There's but one place — the cave 

Her. The cave! 

Meg. Those guards are fools — or shy of water. 



THE MORTAL GODS 53 

Eer. Sir, 

What cave? 

Meg. He's there. Your cold, uncandid cahn 
Has babbled it. The frost is crafty that 
Puts out such anxious fire. 

Eer, My lord, if I 

Should tell you. . . . 

Meg. Quickly then ! How canst debate 

So fatally, knowing delay but robs him 
Of venture's favor? Every moment steals 
A bud of chance. 

Eer. How will you take him out? 

Meg. I'll pass the gates unchallenged. Close without. 
My car stands by, — a racer never spent, 
And begs no pause. Know he is safe, and sleep. 
Night will be secret, and we'll greet the sun 
In my Peonia 

Eer, Ah, Peonia's far! 

Meg. And Vardas near. 

Eer. Take these two stones, my lord. 
Cast them into the falls 

Meg. So! I was right! 

But you must summon him. 

Eer. So soon a tyrant? 

Meg. I'll take him from your hands, — no other way. 
Your trust to me! And with my life I'll guard it! 
For that you love him is my means to you. 
Once in your heart, I'll win the throned place 
Though all his saints defend it! 

Eer. True, my friend, 

We shall be nearer, for anxiety 
Will draw me to you with a longing like 
The aching letch for morning in the eyes 
Pain keeps as tare. You then will be the goal 
Of fondest question, — and from that — who knows? 



54 THE MORTAL GODS 

Out of unbroken faith, and kindly shafts 
'Tween hearts disponent, bridges have been built 
For love's plenipotence to cross. 

Meg. You bid 

Me hope? 

Her. I do not say despair. Sometimes 
A presto-worker sits within the soul 
Of gratitude, and love that must give thanks 
In name of one beloved, has then been known 
To pass from the liege object to the heart 
Whose compass held them both in selfless bounds 
Of chivalry. And yet — I promise nothing ! 

Meg. I ask no promise but the one I find 
In words that so deny it. Now the thought 
Is born, I'll make the naked infant grow 
Heir of my princely opportunity. 
Go now. An instant may defeat us. Haste! 
My purse must buy a guard. 

[Hernda goes off, upper right. Megario walks left and 
calls] 

Benito! Ho! 
You and your fellow ! 

[Enter two guards] 
I have work for you. 
You've seen my gold before. Here's more of it. 
Stand for my word. 

[Hernda returns with Chartrien] 

Cha. Gods give me time for one 

Wild kiss ! O, Heaven ! To find and lose you in 
One whirling breath ! 

Meg. [His pistol at aim] You are my prisoner. 
[Sehora rushes on left] 

Sen. Oh, princess! Oh! 

Meg. [To guards] Move on with him. 

Her. Wait — wait 



THE MORTAL GODS 55 

Meg. No time. 

Her. But I must tell 

Cha. Let fiends be dumb. 

You damned and double traitress, this my hand 
Could lay you dead! 

Meg. [To Hernda, who seems dazed] My goddess, I'll be 
true! 

[Kisses her, and goes off, lower right, with Chartrien and 
guards] 

Sen. You let him kiss you! 

Her. Who? 

Sen. Megario. 

Her. I did not know it. I am dead, I think. 

[Curtain] 



ACT III 

Scene: A yard, walled and spiked, of MegarWs hacienda. 
A long, low hut, the mens sleeping -quarters, at right. 
In upper centre, a smaller hut which serves for kitchen 
and also as sleeping-room for several women. On left, 
the yard continues, showing other huts used by families. 
The entrance gate is off stage, left. An unused gate, 
locked and barred in wall, right. 
Hernda, in the guise of a young Maya woman known as 
Famette, stirs a pan of food which is heating on some 
coals in front of kitchen. Lissa stands in door of hut 
watching her. 
Lis. [Stepping out] You mend, Famette. But when 
you came — all thumbs. 
A woman grown and couldn't spoon up fish! 

Fam. It was the smell. How can they eat it, Lissa? 
Lis. You'll eat it too. 
Fam. That? Never! 

Lis. Another week 

Will starve you to it. 

[Ysobel comes out of kitchen bearing apron fidl of cups 

and spoons which she places on ground] 
Yso. [Looking left] Here's Masio in. [Enters hut] 
Lis. He's always first. 

[Masio comes up left] How did my boy get on? 
Mas. I wasn't near him in the field. 
Lis. He did 

His stint? 

Mas. I never heard. 
Lis. No eyes, no ears, — 

All belly, you ! 

56 



THE MORTAL GODS 57 

Mas. [Taking up spoon and cup from the pile] Fish! 
fish! 

Lis. Beans first. You know 

The rules. 

Mas. I've teeth can break 'em. Fish, Famette! 
[Famette puts fish into his cup] 
There'll be a blessed cleaning-up to-night. 

Lis. More beating? Has the master come? 

Mas. [Nods] And on 

The rounds. He'll clear the yards. News from the north 
Has turned him red and black. 

Fam. A flogging? Oh, 
If you were men you'd fight with your bare hands 
Till you were free! 

Mas. Free as the dead. Our blood 

Would soak the earth and make more hennequin, — 
That's all. 

Fam. Then run away. 

Mas. How far? The swamps? 

To sleep with snakes — a week or less? 

Fam. Across 

The ridges. 

Mas. Where the sun would lap you dry 
As crackling cat-guts? Thirst would draw you in 
To th' next hacienda well. The masters own 
The water, and in this land, that's life. 

Fam. No chance? 

They never get away? 

Mas. Sometimes a man 

Makes Quito, but he soon comes back. 

Fam. Comes back? 

Mas. What else? In Quito there's no work. He 
starves. 
And here — there's beans. So he gives up, and then 
They send him back. 



58 THE MORTAL GODS 

Fam. And he is flogged? 
Mas. Ay, till 

His bones crack. 

Fam. Oh! He bears it? 

Mas. Like a man, 

My dear. 

Fam. The coward! 

Mas. So — back to the field. 

Mute as a snail, and poorer too, for then 
The dream is gone of any life but this. 
Fam. They have no spirit — none! 
Mas. Much as you'll have 

This time next year. 

Fam. Next year? I shall be gone. 

My debt was just ten pesos. 

Mas. [Incredulous] You were sold 

For that? 

Fam. I'll work it out. 

Mas. Be 't ten or hundreds. 

Who comes here stays. You'll soon know that, my bird. 
And limber your fine neck. 

[As they talk, men and women enter in groups of scores 
and dozens until there are several hundred in the yard. 
They are mostly of mixed blood, their color ranging 
from the full brown of the Maya to the pale olive of 
the Peonian aristocrat. At a spout, upper left, they 
wash their hands, then drop about wearily. One man 
sits near Famette, his head sunk on his chest. She 
lays her hand on his shoulder] 
Fam. What, Garza, you? 

Who were so blithe this morning, on your way 
To freedom? 

Garza. [Rocking] Mother of God ! Oh, Mother of God ! 
Fam. What is it, Garza? 



THE MORTAL GODS 59 

Mas. There you have it ! You see 

Who comes here stays. 

Fam. But he was free! His friend 

Brought twenty pesos to pay off his debt. 

Gonzalo. And when he went to pay it, on the books 
There stood two hundred pesos against Garza. 

Mas. Two hundred — twenty, — you see, Famette, 
How much a httle "o" can do. 

Fam. They dare 

Do that? I'll see the magistrate! [The men stare at her] 

Mas. [Patting her shoulder] Poor girl ! 

Fom. I will! Why not? What is he for? 

Gon. What for? 

To see we are well beaten when we ask 
For justice. He must serve who pays him, — that's 
The master. 

Fam. Oh, you worse than slaves! 

Mas. No names, 

My proudling. Wait a year, then what you please. 

[The men have been eating. Ysobel stands in door of hut 
holding a great bowl of beans from which the peons fill 
their cups. Lissa gives out the fish. Her boy, IdusOy 
crouches by her skirts] 

Lis. [To boy] Not eat? Now you're a man? Twelve 
years to-day! 

Fam. [Bending over Iduso] Is't fever, Lissa? 

Lis, [With sullen jealousy] Let him be, Famette. 
What do you know? You've got no children. 

Fam. I've 

A little brother. 

Lis. Brother! Nothing that. 

Fam. He's just Iduso's age. 

Lis. [Softened] And has to take 

A man's work on him? 

Fam. N-o 



60 THE MORTAL GODS 

Lis. I said it now. 

What do you know? Look at your hands — not stumps 
Like mine. 

Mas. Who hugs the post to-night? 

Gon. I heard 

Of seven warned. 

Yso. My man! He hasn't come! 

31 as. God's mercy, give us peace! It was his turn 
To put away the knives. 

[Ysobel leans against hut. Famette takes bowl from her] 

Lis. There's seven, you say? 

Ben. None from this yard. Famette, you haven't seen 
A flogging yet? 

Fam. And never will, you beast! 

Ben. Your never's short, — less than an hour. 

Fam. What do you mean? 

Ben. The whip draws blood to-night. 

And we must all look on, for our soul's good. 
It is the master's order. 

Fam. I'll not go! 

Mas. Why, God looks on, Famette, and so may we. 
All Heaven sees it, and I'll pledge my — fish — 
That not an angel blanches. 

Gon. You should see 

The master! 

Fam. He is there? Does he look on? 

Mas. O, not quite that. To eye the work 
Would show too grossly, but you'll see him there, — 
Somewhat aside, leaning against a yew, 
Most carefully at ease. Then he will light 
A delicate cigar that fills the grove 
With a fantastic odor, like, we'll say. 
Faint musk that creeps on burning pine. 
You will approve the quality, Famette. 
That is his signal. 



THE MORTAL GODS 61 

Fam. Oh! 

Mas. Long as he puffs. 

And soft, white rings twirl upward to the leaves, 
The lashes fall. And when, grown gently weary, 
As 'twere half accident, from his high thoughts 
Remote, he clears the cindered tip — like this— 
The whip is still. 

Fam. Where, where am I? 

Mas. In hell. 

Sweetheart. 

Fam. Who are you, Masio.^ You are not 
As these that suffer speechless. 

Mas. Pinch the difference! 

A little learning, and a few opinions 
That brought me here. 

Fam. [Moving aside with him] What did you do? 

Mas. I spoke 

The truth too near the ear of Cordiaz, 
And there's no greater crime. 

Fam. You are a prisoner? 

But you're not guarded. 

Mas. No, they leave me free, 
In hope I'll run. Then they will shoot me down. 
And you — what brought you here? Ten pesos 
Could never buy you — nor a hundred either. 

Fam. I mean to lead these men to join Bolderez: 

Mas. What! Lead them out? 

Fam. And you will help me do it. 

Mas. Well, when I want to die. You're mad. 

We're all 
Sprats in a net. Y oil II not get out, once let 
The master see you. Better hide those eyes 

Yso. [Running and catching Masio by the shoulder] 

You lied to me! You lied! They've got my 
Grija! 
Down in the lower yard ! 



62 THE MORTAL GODS 

Grija. [Entering and making his way to her] No! Here 
I am. 
Safe in, old tear-box. 

Yso. Holy Mary! 

[Tells her beads rapidly as he leads her aside] 

Fam. [Aroused] Men! 
If Osa looked from yonder mountain scarp. 
Would she descend to lead such currish hearts 
To liberty.'^ 

Gon. We are not dogs. 

Fam. Then shame 

To bear the life of dogs! 

Ben. What do you know 

Of Osa? 

Fam. Know.f^ Does she not guard the shrine 
Cherished ten centuries in your secret hills .^ 
Priestess and princess, daughter of your kings, — 
The ancient poet kings who ruled and sang 
In palaces where now your huddled huts 
Give you a slave's foul shelter! 

A Voice. Will she come.f^ 

Fam. To such as you? With heads hung down, and 
backs 
Bared for the whip? The moment that you hold 
Your manhood dearer than your life, she'll stand 
Before you. Then you'll see 

Mas. For God's sake, hush! 

The master! 

Ben. [As all look left] No, it's Coquriez. 

Gon. With his Gringo. 

[Coquriez enters with Chartrien. They cross right] 

Cha. Leave me alone. 

Coq. My soul, am I not sick 

Of your dumb lordship? Now the master's here, 
I hope, by Jesu, that our ways will part. 



THE MORTAL GODS 63 

[Turns and joins the men, leaving Chartrien seated on the 

stone step of one of the doors to the long hut, right. 

Megario enters unseen and stands watching, left. They 

gradually become aware of his presence, and all are silent] 

Meg. Coquriez! 

Coq. [Crossing left] Here, sir! 

[The tension relaxes slightly. Lissa and Ysobel quietly 
distribute food and the men eat in silence. Famette 
keeps in shadow, a shawl over her head, and vainly 
tries to hear what Megario and Coquriez are saying. 
They talk in low tones at left, then move centre, front] 
Coq. Shoot the Gringo, sir? 

I thought he was to Hve. 

Meg. It must be done 

To-morrow. 

Coq. I'll do it. 

Meg. Take him on the road. 

And don't come back with him. 

Coq. To-morrow, sir? 

Meg. At day-break. Drop him cold. I was a fool 
To let him live a day! 

[Famette has advanced too far and Megario sees her] 

Who's that? 
Coq. There? Oh! 

I bought her in last week. 

Meg. The day I left? 

Coq. I think 'twas then. 

Meg. An old one, — so you said. 

Coq. About the Gringo, sir, 

Meg. What is her name? 

Coq. Famette. 

[Famette goes back to the women] 
Meg. A figure too. 
Coq. It's not so easy 

To drop a white-skin 



64 THE MORTAL GODS 

Meg. Come, Famette ! Come here. 

[She turns and conies slowly] 
Old? By the gods! Why did you He to me? 

Coq. My lord you Hke none past fourteen. 

She*s that 
Half over. 

Meg. Brazen devil! Come, Famette. 
I like your name. I like your face too, girl. 
Don't be afraid. Show me your eyes. You won't? 
Where have I seen you? 

Fam. I'm a stranger, sir. 

My home was in the north. 

Meg. That fester-spot! 

A stranger? Then we must be good to you. 
Where do you sleep? 

Fam. There, in the hut. 

Meg. You'll have 

A better soon. Next time I'll see your eyes. [Going] 
Mind, Coquriez, to-morrow! Do that well, 
I'll pardon this. [Exit] 

Fam. What is't you do to-morrow? 

And why do you need pardon? You who serve 
So well? 

Coq. My pretty bird, I've been too slow. 

Fam. Too slow? 

Coq. I've limped, and lost. 

Fam. Ah, Coquriez! 

Coq. You're not afraid of me. You look at me. 
And turned from him. That's honey on his curse! 

Fam. He curses you? And you do all for him! 
All that he asks you, — things he dares not do 
With his own hand. 

Coq. You care for that? 

Fam. You risk 

Your soul, perhaps, 



THE MORTAL GODS 65 

Coq. 'Tis certain. Pray for me, 

Chiquita. 

Fam. When? 

Coq. To-morrow I must leave 

The Gringo in the marshes. 

Fam. Oh, 'twas that! 

And paid with curses 

Lis. [Calls, as a new hatch of men come {n\ 
Come, Famette ! Here's work ! 

Fam. We'll talk again. [Hurries to Lis so] 

A man. The beans are cold. 

Another. Soured too! 

Gray Moses, here's a life! 

Mas. Do you complain, 

O, comrades? Now your hour is come? The pearl 
O' the long ungarnished day? The holy hour 
Of — beans? Why, think! What do we hve for, men? 
For sweaty moments battling 'gainst the sun 
To strip the thorny hennequin? For nights 
Of bitten sleep in unwashed pens? Not so. 
Lift up your cups! Here is the crown of toil! 
Each day we reach our life's supremest dome. 
And know we're there! Can man ask more? Even kings, 
Though the gold frontal of munificence 
Is bowed before them, yet must fretting guess 
The morrow's store. But we, my friends, we know! 
Then let each separate and distinct legume, 
Dear as the Egyptian treasure lost in wine. 
Delay as preciously 

Coq. [Cutting him across shoulders] 

Come down from that! 
There's more for you, my friend, i' the lower yard. 
I'll tie you up. 

Fam. O, Coquriez, let him go. 

You should not care. His tongue was born with him, 
And God may mend it. Let the fool alone. 



66 THE MORTAL GODS 



Coq. Hmm, if you ask me- 



Fam. Thank you, Coquriez. 

I'll stand for him he'll not offend again. 

Mas. My tongue is glue. 'Twill stick to its place. 

A man. Fish! fish! 

Another. He's had his share. 

The man. Not half a cup! 

O, Jesu, I am starved. I did my stint, 
And helped the boy, Famette. Can I do that 
On half a cup? 

Fam. No, Berto, here is more. 

Yso. The Gringo does not eat. 

Fam. I'll take him this. 

[Fills cup from howl of beans and goes to Chartrien^ who is 
still seated on the step, listless and observing nothing] 

Fam. Senor.f^ 

Cha. Who spoke? 0, you, Famette? No, thanks. 

I can not eat. [Turns from her] That's twice I've heard 

the voice 
Of Hernda. Madness creeps, but surely comes. 

Fam. [Over his shoulder] You must escape to-night. 

Cha. [Facing her] Escape? To-night? 

Fam. Here, hold the cup, and eat. Do, sir! We're 
watched. 
To-morrow Coquriez leads you to the woods. 
Comes back alone 

Cha. At last I know my hour. 

Fam. But you shall live. Last night I worked till day 
At that locked gate. 'Tis open. None suspects. 
Outside there's water in a flask, and bread, — 
Beneath the cactus at the left 

Cha. But how 

Get out? I am locked in at night, and watched 
At other hours. 

Fam. Eat, eat, and listen, Seiior! 

To-night a flogging in the lower yard 



THE MORTAL GODS 67 

Will empty this. You'll go with Coquriez. 
Urge him to bring you back. Say you are ill, — 
For that you are, — and come. Here I shall hide, 
And as you pass, will suddenly step out 
And speak to Coquriez. You fall behind, 
In shadow of my hut, move round it, wait 
This side, then see what's next to do. 

A man. [Calling] Famette? 
Where is Famette? She doesn't count the beans. 
[Famette goes back to the men] 

Cha. It is a lure. If I attempt escape, 
Then Coquriez shoots me dead, his soul just clear 
Of murder. 

Coq. [To Famette] Our Gringo's learned to eat, I see. 

Cha. Now do they change confederate nods, and gaze 
Their mated thoughts. Down, down to dust, my heart! 
The struggle's off. I'll fight no more. Yon stars 
Have rest for me. Is't so.^^ Vain footing there. 
What rest have they, that share with man the surge 
From life to life? There Jupiters unfound 
Whirl cooling till their straining sides may bear 
Ocean and land and clinging bride of green; 
And Saturns, nameless yet, cast travailing 
Their ringed refulgence. Not the frozen moons 
May fix in stillness, but sweep captive back 
To flaming centres when their planets call. 
There old, dead suns, that think their work is done. 
Meet crashing, ground to cloudy fire whose worlds. 
Far driven, traverse time and know men's days. 
Ay, one may go beyond the ether's breath, 
Farthest of all, to be another First, 
Undreaming this our God. And I must shift 
Eternal and unresting as those suns. 
Then let Death hasten. He shall be as one 
Who timely strips a wrestler of his cloak. 



68 THE MORTAL GODS 

And, kindly freed, I shall uncumbered leap 
To other battle, finding armor where 
I find my cause. 

A man. [To Famette] My turn. Here, give me that. 

Fam. The Gringo's had no fish. 

The man. Then give me his. 

He doesn't care. Has run already from 
The smell. 

Fam. I'll give you half. The rest 
I'll take to him. 

Coq. He'll come for what he wants. 

Fam. No, he is sick, poor devil! [Goes to Chartrien] 

Coq. Humph ! 

Fam. [To Chartrien] You'll take 

The chance .^^ There is no other. 

Cha. It's a trap. 

You risk your life for me, a Gringo? No. 

Fam. You must believe me! Oh, what can I say! 

Cha. Say nothing. Go. 

Fam. I love you, love you, Senor! 

Cha. You would persuade me. 

Fam. Sir, the wine you found 

Behind your prison door, — and good, clean bread, — 
I put them there! 

Cha. 'Twas you, Famette? I thought 

That Coquriez did it, — feared I'd die before 
The master came. 

Fam. Not his brute heart ! And then 
That night of fever 

Cha. Yes! What then? 

Fam. I lay 

Outside your jail, my head against the wall, 
That I might hear if once you groaned, or know 
If sleep had come. 

Cha. Can such love be for me? 



THE MORTAL GODS 69 

Fam. You must — you must believe me! 

Cha. God, your eyes! 

[She lowers her head] 

'Tis madness, bred of these sun-poisoned days, 

And nights without a hope Look up, Famette. 

I do beheve you. 

Fam. [Kissing her rosary] Mother, adored and blessed! 

Cha. Wilt be a beggar soldier's bride, Famette? 

Fam. You do not love me, Senor. 

Cha. But I love 

Your gentle heart that warms mine empty, — love 
Your eyes, like memories burning, — and your voice 
That's linked to an old wound in me, — but most 
I love your soul that is as great as truth 
And strong as sacrifice. You'll come to me 
In Quito, if I make escape? I'll find 
A way to bring you out 

Fam. You*re mine? 

Cha. Till death. 

Fam. And after that? 

Cha. I'll give you truth for truth. 

Beyond this world I hope to meet a soul 
Who did not walk in this, but ought to have. 
For here her body dwelt. This side of death, 
My life — a bitter one, that only you 
Have sweetened — is your own, if you will have 
So mean a gift. 

[Ipparro has entered the yard and becomes a centre of al- 
tercation. He starts out taking Lissa's boy, Iduso. 
There is a shriek from Lissa, and Famette hurries to 
her] 

Lis. My boy! My little one! 

God strike you dead, Ipparro ! 

Fam. You'll not flog 

The boy? 



70 THE MORTAL GODS 

Ipp. He didn't do his stint by half. 
You know the master's rules. He's twelve years old. 
Must cut three thousand leaves. 

Fam. A man's full work. 

And he's so small. 

Lis. And sick he is. Two days 

He couldn't eat. 

Ipjp. You women! 

Fam. Let him go. 

A little child, Ipparro. 

Ipp. Let him go? 

Am I the master of the hacienda? 
He'll tie me up to-morrow! 

Fam. It will kill 

Iduso. 

Lis. Such a little one, he is! 
A baby yesterday, — to-day a man, — 
How can that be? 

[An overseer enters left] 

Overseer. What's up? Come on with you! 

The master waits, — burns like perdition! Come! 
Come, all of you ! The women too ! Clear out ! 

[Drives them out, Famette slips into her hut. Chartrien 
joins the men and follows last with Coquriez. They 
stop left] 

Coq. Won't see the show? 

Cha. I'll not go on. 

Coq. Come then. 

I'll lock you up. [They turn back] 

We'll have an early march 
To-morrow, mate. Must hit the brush by dawn. 
There's little sleep for me. 

Cha. Shall I have more 

In that hot pen? 

Coq. [Laughs] You'll make it up, I guess. 



THE MORTAL GODS 71 

Cha. I understand. You'll murder me. 

Coq. My soul! 

Let's keep our manners, though we sit in helL 
My occupation's decent, nothing said. 
The silent deed is clean, but mouth it once. 
The hands will smell. Pah! 

[Famette steps out of hut] 

Here's my kitten! 
A kiss, my honey-pot! 

Fam. I've better for you. 

[Gives him a bottle of wine] 

Coq. My ducky! From the master's cellar! 
How 

Fam. No matter. It is good. 

Coq. Thief of my soul, 

A kiss! 

[As he attempts to embrace her she springs back, pointing 
left] 

Fam. Look, look ! He's gone ! The Gringo flies ! 
O, Coquriez, you'll be shot! 

Coq. [Stunned for a moment, springs off shouting] 

Help! Stop him! Help! [Exit left, firing his pistol] 
The Gringo! Stop him! 

[Famette runs to gate right, where Chartrien is removing 
bar] 

Cha. Come! Fly with me! Now! 

I can not leave you here ! 

Fam, Go! Do not stop. 

However weary, till you're safe in Quito. 
The wounded hare, remember, takes no nap. 

Cha. Come, come! 

Fam. No, I am safe. And there's more work 

For me. They'll come back here to search. Nay, go ! 
Another moment and we both shall die! 



72 THE MORTAL GODS 

Cha. [Kissing her] I'll wait in Quito, — then a husband's 
kiss! 

[Goes. Famette puts up bar, then returns to her hut and 
sinks at door] 

Fam. If I could pray! If I could pray! How far 
Seems that old God I knew! A playhouse God 
Who never saw the world! [Leaps up] 

They're coming back! 

[Sits again, abjectly, her shawl over her head. Megario, 
Coquriez, and peons, enter] 

Meg. Where is the woman? 

Coq. There she sits, — the witch! 

Meg. Stand up! Take off that shawl! 

[Famette stands up. A man snatches the shawl from her 
head] 

Meg. Famette! Not you? 

Fam. [Cowering] 1, master. 

Meg. [To men] Search the yard. Turn every leaf 

And stone. 

[The men scatter] 

Mas. I'll give that gate a look. [Crosses to gate right] 

Meg. This was 

Your drooping modesty ! [ Turns on Coquriez] 

You fool! — to let 
The man escape ! By Heaven, you might have burnt 
The hacienda down and not have made 
My blood so hot! 

Coq. It was the woman, sir. 
She jumped before me, smiling like a devil. 
And when I tried to pass she caught my knees 
And held this thing up, saying 'twas for me. 
I kicked her off 

Meg. No doubt! 

Coq. And when I turned 

The prisoner was gone. 



THE MORTAL GODS 73 

Meg. [To Famette] You saw him go? 

Fam. Yes, master. Through the gate, hke wings. And 
then 
I gave the warning. Coquriez knows I did. 

Meg. What did she say.^^ 

Coq. She cried "The Gringo flies!" 

And pointed there. 

Mas. [Returning] The upper gate is fast. 
He went that way. [Nods left] Beneath the cypresses 
Into the maguey fields. 

A man. He'll not get far. 

He has no water. 

Meg. He will die in th' brush. 

And I shall never know it. Alive or dead, 
He must be found. I'll flog a man a day, 
Until I see his bones. 

Gon. [Coming up] He is not here. 
We've looked in all the huts. 

Meg. Ipparro? 

I pp. Sir! 

Meg. Send men abroad, for fifty miles about, 
To put the haciendas on the watch. 
He must come in for water. Choose good men, 
Who ridey and see no wenches by the way. 

Coq. My lord, I've served you long 

Meg. Too long, you hound! 

Where is your lady's token .f^ 

Coq. This, my lord. 

She thrust it in my hand. 

Meg. And left it too! 

Coq. I knew 'twas yours. 

Meg. [To Famette] A thief too, are you? 

[Famette crouches, drawing shawl over her head] 

Meg. True, 

Coquriez, you have served me long. I'll add 
You've served me well until to-night. 



74 THE MORTAL GODS 

Coq. O, pardon! 

Meg. I trusted you. And held your hand as mine, 
To make my wishes deeds. 

Coq. 'Tis sworn your own ! 

Meg. Then prove it. Take this whip. Come, take it, 
man! 
Now flog that witch. 

Coq. Famette! A woman, sir? 

Meg. The devil's second name is woman. Do it! 

Coq. A heavy hand I've laid on men, my lord, 
But never yet 

Meg. Her smile struck deep to make 
Such putty of your heart. 

[Coquriez drops whip] Pick up that whip ! 
You want its kisses, do you? Pick it up. 
Or you shall feel them to your traitor bones! 
I'll have you flogged together! 

[Coquriez slowly picks up whip. Famette rises, throioing 
of her shawl] 

Fam. Hear me, men! 

For men you are, — not beasts. Your hands are strong 
In ceaseless toil. Day after day you pile 
Your master's wealth more high. Day after day 
You sweat your way a little nearer death. 
That he may kick your bodies from his path 
And set your graves in hennequin. But know 
Who toils may fight! The hand that lifts a spade 
May bear a sword. The strength you give to him. 
Use for yourselves. Your master is one man, 
You are five hundred 

Meg. Gods! I'll stop your mouth! 

You men there — go — you dozen at the gate — 
Go to the dry -yard — load your backs with fibre — 
And bring it here ! 

[Men go out] 



THE MORTAL GODS 75 

I'll teach you now, you slaves I 
You are five hundred — yes — and I am one, 
But in me is the might of Goldusan! 
The power of Cordiaz is in my whip, 
And back of that is iromHudibrand! 
Kill me to-night, to-morrow you shall die, 
Each dog of you, — you know it! 

[Men come in with fibre] 

Throw the stuff 
Against the hut. There, pile it up. More, more! 
Now, Coquriez, the gentle, you've refused 
To ruffle your fond dove, — here's sweeter work, 
And for no hand but yours. Put her within, 
Then fire the hut. [Utter silence] 

What terror's on you, beasts? 
Coq. In God's name, sir, you dare not! 
Meg. In the name 

Of all who know how power is kept, I dare ! 
Move there, you dog! 

[Coquriez stands motionless] 
Do you refuse again? 
Then .... in your heart. [Shoots. Coquriez falls dead] 
Who'll be the next to stand on feet of lead 
When I say "Do?" Gonzalo! Garza! Out! 

[The men do not move. Megario lifts his pistol] 
Fam. Spare them, Megario. I'll go in. 

[Enters hut, closing door] 
Meg. [Trembling] That voice! 

Who is this woman? Speak! Who knows? I've 
heard. . . . 

Bah! I'm a fool! Take up that lantern there, 

Gonzalo. Break it on the fibre. Move! 

[He stands with his weapon draum. The door of the hut 
is thrown open and Famette appears. She loears a rich 
robe, gleaming white, with blue and gold cabalistic broid- 



76 THE MORTAL GODS 

ery. In her hand is a sceptre, on her head a crown with 
a single star. The men, with cries of ''Osa! Osa!'^ 
fall upon their knees, foreheads to ground, then leap up, 
changed, and glaring. They seem ready to spring upon 
Megario] 

Fam. Shoot now, Megario ! [Silence] 
You dare not do it! 
Kill me, — kill one of them, — shoot till your weapon 
Pants its last murder, and a hundred hands 
Will tear you limb from limb and bone from bone, 
Till every separate shred of you be cast 
To its own devil! Shoot, Megario! 

[His hand falls. Famette steps into the yard] 
Where are the masters who can help you now? 
The mighty ones who know how power is kept? 
Look on these men. Their blood sings as it sang 
Through centuries gone, — with courage that was theirs 
Ere ships came up like night on this doomed coast 
Unloading hell! 

Meg. Who are you, woman? Who? 

Fam. The spirit of these people, absent long, 
But come at last to be their hearts' old fire. 
Four hundred years you've trampled on their bodies, 
But see — look in their eyes — you have not slain 
Their God. 

Meg. Your name! Who are you? 

Fam. Riven hills 

May hide the shrine of long unsceptred kings. 
And keep their royal secret year by year. 

Voices. Hail, Osa! Osa, queen! 

Meg. What do you want? 

Fam. Three things, Megario. 

Meg. What are they? 

Fam. First, — 

That I may pass from here, free as I came, 
With every soul that will go out with me. 



THE MORTAL GODS 77 

Meg. The way is open. Go. 

Fam. And you with us. 

Far as the coast, where wilHng transport waits 
To bear us northward. Then you may go free. 

[Turns to the people] 
There brothers wait you, men, — there freedom's tongue 
Is beacon fire. The whole of northland sings, 
A canticle of flame. You'll go with me? 

Mas. [Loudly] We'll follow Osa! 

Voices. Osa! Osa! On! 

Fam. Gonzalo, choose you men, a thrifty score. 
To fill the water- jars and get us food 
From the hacienda stores 

[Gonzalo passes out, men following at his signal] 
The third demand, 
Megario, is this. That key you belt 
So close — 

[Megario claps hand on key] 

Yes, that, — it must be mine, to unlock 
A dungeon here and free a prisoner 
Whom you for love of torture keep alive. 

Meg. No, that's a lie. 

Fam. Deny it to the stars 

That saw you yesternight steal up like crime 
To a dark grating, saw you gloat, and fling 
The crumbs that will not let your victim die. 
Though scarce they give him life. 

Meg. [Gasping] A lie! 

Fam. The key, 

Megario. 

Meg. I will not 

Fam. In my hand! 

[Megario takes key from his belt and hands it to her] 
I thank thee, God, my hand may turn the key 
That frees Rejan LeVal! Now forward, men! 



78 THE MORTAL GODS 

O, glorious to be men! Ipparro, walk 
Beside our prisoner. Garza, be his aid. 
Two days of marching, then the friendly sea. 
And if you toil again amid these fields, 
You'll take the fruit. On! 

Men. Osa! To the sea! 

[Curtain] 



ACT IV 

Scene: The Grove of Peace, as in second act. Late after- 
noon. Two officers meet as curtain rises. 

First Off. So Cordiaz is fallen. 

Second Off. Joggled down 

At last, poor man! 

First Off. When all the ghosts he made 

Come back to weep his fall, I'll swell the flood 
With half a tear, no more. 

Second Off. Then you're for Vardas? 

First Off. By glory, no! He'll open Goldusan 
To every thief that knocks. 

Second Off. Trust Hudibrand 

To guard the door. Till he has plucked the goose, — 
Then they may shave it for their part. 

First Off. So, friend? 

Second Off. Phut! Goldusan's his box of snuff — held 
so — 
And as he pleases, tchew! — 'tis empty. 

First Off. Come, 

I'll walk your way. [They move, right] 

What of this truce .^ Goes 't deep? 

Second Off. As flattery may plough. It is our croon 
Of compliment to our new-seated king. 

First Off. Nay, president. We're a republic now. 

Second Off. Spell 't king or president, it means the same. 

First Off. But with Bolderez ours, the truce should last. 

Second Off. Why, 't may, till night. Bolderez, friend. 
Is not the revolution. 

79 



80 THE MORTAL GODS 

First Off. He's the heft of 't, 

And 's made a full surrender. 

Second Off. Made his terms! 

His officers are guardians of the State, 
And he — he's stallion of the court, submits 
To curb and comb that he may prouder prance 
And keep the herd at stare. Surrender? Lord! 
I think it! 

[Enter Third Officer, from, left] 

Third Off. What's stirring, friends? 

Second Off. Sleep-walkers. 

Third Off. Ay, 

This amnesty makes idlers. 

Second Off. So to-day, 

But work brews for to-morrow. 

Third Off. You've a secret, 

And I've a guess that picks the lock to 't. 

Second Off. Come! 

These leaves are listeners. 

[They go off, lower right. Enter by path upper right, 
Senora Ziralay and Guildamour] 

Gui. To find you here 

Makes my best hope a sluggard, far outgone 
By th' dear event. 

Sen. I came five days ago. 

The princess with me, here to wait return 
Of Hudibrand. That you have come with him. 
Makes sober welcome blithe. 

Gui. He's slack in health. 

Sen. That's written plain. 

Gui. What iron's in the man 

That he yet lives? 

Sen. He's been in conclave? 

Gui. Yes. 

Five nights he routed sleep from th' drowsy synod. 



I 



THE MORTAL GODS 81 

And hung upon us turning every flank, 

Till Protest paled and Patience bled at heart. 

Sen. And at the end? 

Qui. He held our sealed bonds, 

And Vardas sat secure. 

Sen. The bonds? We own 

Our railways now? 

Gui. We do. And Hudibrand 

Owns us, — that is, the bonds. A good, stout noose 
For a nation's neck. 

Sen. And all these days he's been 

In th' capital? 

Gui. In closest session, though 

A stage-fed rumor held that he was gone 
From Goldusan. The harried people fear 
Assarian power, and on the jealous watch, 
Keep Hudibrand in burrow. 

Sen. He's gay-blown 

W^ith confidence. I hear from Ziralay 
He made a careless peace with all the friends 
Of tottering Cordiaz. 

Gui. That carelessness 

Was sea-deep cunning. Favors will go high. 
They'll find. Megario gave full half his lands 
For place in th' Cabinet. 

Sen. Megario moved 
In blaze of censure, and did well to escape 
Singed of but half his goods. Two prisoners lost 

Gui. Ah, Chartrien and 

Sen. Rejan! 

Gui. Be guarded here. 

Fate rustles at that name. 

Sen. O, Guildamour, 

Fear is the silent warder that divides 
Our secret hearts. Give it the tongue of daring, 



82 THE MORTAL GODS 

And like a blest interpreter 'twill bring 
Our hopes together. 

Gui. There is stir within. 

Come from these walls, Sefiora. And if your hope 
Is on the road with mine, I've news will make 
The wayside sing. Winds gather here and yon 
That may out-swagger even Hudibrand. 

[They go back along cascade path^ as Hudibrand, Diraz, 
Mazaran, and Golifet come out of house] 

Got. [Holding up letter] Nay, fearless majesty might take 
more note 
Of this despatch. 

Hud. That beggar's mewl? 

Gol. There's power 

In every word. LeVal n^^ust harbor strength 
We do not know of. 

Hud. Tush! That is the vaunt 

Of weakness, not of power. 

Maz. What is't he says.^ 

Gol. Avers him free of this imposed truce. 
And gives a fair foe's warning he'll attack 
Whene'er and how he can. 

Maz. Well bragged. 

Dir. His guns. 

No doubt, are cooler than his pen. 

Maz. What more? 

Gol. Repudiates Bolderez, and declares 
Himself the head of the Insurrectionists, 
Sole authorized to speak and treat for them. 
My lord, what shall I answer? 

Hud. Answer? Humph! 

Treat with a rag-pole? W^e'll not sag to that. 

[Re-enter, right, Sefiora and Guildamour] 

Hud. My dear Sefiora, is our freakish daughter 
In hiding from us? We've not had her greeting. 



THE MORTAL GODS 83 

Sen. She knew you close engaged, my lord, and left 
The hour to you. I'll tell her of your pleasure. 
Hud. My steps are yours. [To his companions] 

Each where he would, my friends. 

[Goes in with Sehora] 

Dir. I'm for a swim. 

Gol. And I. 

Maz. The river .^ With you! 

Gol. [Leading left] Bolderez' men are gathering opposite. 
Behind the river woods. 

Maz. The pick of camps. 

Gol. They know it too. There's water, and the trees 
Are cool and friendly. 

Dir. Was it not resolved 

Bolderez' men should join the Federal Guards? 

Gol. They do, in th' main. This is a straggling wing 
Left in the hills, that we have given leave 
To station here. 

Dir. That's prudence too. 

Maz. Why so.? 

Dir. I'm windward of a whisper. 

Gol. About LeVal? 

Dir. He's circling in. Let Hudibrand laugh low 
Or the enemy will hear him. 

Gol. This LeVal 

Was dead and buried, — three months out of life, — 
Shook from remembrance as the stalest clutter, — 
Now, save our eyes, he's jumped alive and rides 
Our foremost thought ! Enough to send a man 
Back to his marrows. I shall pray to-night. 

Maz. A plunge for resolution! That will cool it. 

[Exeunt lower left. Sefiora comes out of house and crosses 
to seat, right] 



84 THE MORTAL GODS 

Seti. 'Tis five o'clock. No sign! But he will come. 
He comes! 

[Enter Chartrien, lower right. They meet silently and 
clasp hands] 

Cha. My friend ! I thought you far from here. 
Safe in the capital. But nothing's strange 
To those who've moved mid miracles. You've seen 
LeVal? 

Sen. I have. 

Cha. I long to greet him. O, 

Such walking of the dead renews the earth 
And makes it habitable! I have heard 
It was Famette w^ho saved him, — added that 
To array of deeds that must unlaurel all 
The heroines of time. 

Sen. There'll be an hour 

To talk of that. Now you must see the princess. 

Cha. Hernda is with you? Here! 

Sen. And Hudibrand. 

No danger there. He wants you now, and says 
You'll find good grass if you will leap the stile. 

Cha. [Answering her smile] So blind as that.^ Poor 
mole, he's been in th' ground 
Too long. Will never get his eyes. 

Sen. Ay, he'll 

Deny the sun till 't bakes him in his burrow. 
But Hernda, — O, what welcome waits you, friend! 
The ivory-crusted temple, shut and sealed 
To eternal airs, is now a fane of rose. 
Whose cloistral stairs, that wound so futilely, 
Will now through fragrant twilight lead you up 
To windowed Heaven. Come! Come, take your own! 

Cha. No! Wait. . . . 

Sen. A lover speaks that word? 

Cha. Seiiora, 



THE MORTAL GODS 85 

Sen. That wound she gave you here is open yet? 
But you were wrong, and with your wretched doubts 
Assailed her in the hour she lay on rack 
To save you. 

Cha, On rack for me? She gave me up. 
Gave me to him, — Megario, — knowing that 
Meant death. 

Sen. And yet you live. 

Cha. I—? 

Sen. ' Live. Do you not know 

You were to die that night? 

Cha. I've heard. 

Sen. Those hours 

She gained for you meant life. 

Cha. She gained for me? 

I saw his lips on hers. 

Sen. You did. And I — 

I saw her face. The dead are warmer. She 
Could bear that touch for your sake, and on that 
Bore too your curse. 

Cha. For me? I'll hear no more, 

Senora. 

Sen. You will see her now? 

Cha. Not now, 

Nor ever. I am here by pledge, to meet — 
A friend. 

[Masio enters lower right] 

Sen. Is this — the man? 

Cha. No, but I know him. 

He's seeking me, I think. 

Sen. I'll leave you then. 

Cha. [Seizing her hands] Nothing to Hernda! 

Sen. Nothing. You and she 

For what may come. [Goes in] 

Cha. You, Masio? From Famette? 



86 THE MORTAL GODS 

Mas. No, from the camp. 

Cha. The camp! But she is there? 

Mas. That's guessing, sir. There's fernseed on her 
wings. 
She flits invisible, then bat your eyes 
You see her. 

Cha. I've her word she'd meet me here. 

Mas. Queer place. You come from Quito? 

Cha. Yes. 'Twas there 

I had her letter making this strange tryst. 
I've travelled from that hour. Famette has left 
Her name upon the air, and all the way 
I heard it. 

Mas. She's the bird of courage, dares 
Go far as our LeVal himself. But here's 
What brought me, sir. [Gives Chartrien a letter] 

'Tis from LeVal. 

Cha. His hand! 

His living hand! [Reads, pales, and stands silent] 

Mas. Bad, sii? 

Cha. No, good. 'Tis good. 

Mas. Then I'll be off. My head's no show variety. 
But I'd not trust it long in th' grove of Peace. 
We'll see you soon in camp? 

Cha. To-night, I hope. 

Famette holds key to that. 

Mas. The first star bring you ! [Exit] 

Cha. [Reads letter] When you see the princess Hernda, 
kiss for me the hand that gave me freedom. It was she 
unlocked my dungeon and nursed my bones to life. What 
I am is hers, and therefore yours. Le Val, 

Hast grown so spent, O Fortune, that one stroke 
Must deal both death and life? — with hand that parts 
The night, show too my rainbow loss? .... All, all 



THE MORTAL GODS 87 

My future sold to the gray usurer Grief, 
Who gathers up as sapped and withered leaves 
Time's unimagined buds ! No eve, no dawn 
With Hernda! No brief night that makes 
The sun unwelcome as he golds desire, 
The warm mist-flower where we lie its heart! 
Unbrace thee here, my courage! Valiancy, 
First god and last in man, unbuckle here! 
.... How meet Famette? Smile on her smiles? De- 
ceive 
Her love? She'll lay her head upon my heart 
And hear it crying "Hernda!" .... Hernda lost! 
I must not dream here open to the risk 
Of her unanswered eyes. Their lure would make 
Dishonor, that on wreck feeds rampant, spring 
Unshamed in me. I would forsake Famette. 

[Goes righty upper path. Hernda comes from house and 
crosses rapidly to him] 

Her. Chartrien! Come! [He turns slowly and meets 
her] You take my hand, here where 
You wished me dead? 

Cha. That you have offered it 

Proves me forgiven. 

Her. You forgiven? Ah, 

Has my atonement swollen above my fault 
Till I may nod a pardon where I thought 
To kneel for one? 

Cha. LeVal has written me. [Kisses her hand] 

This kiss is his salute, and that 'tis his. 
Not mine, makes my lips bold to leave it here. 

Her. Forgiven ! Dawn is on my sky, that hung 
Unutterably black ! Yes, it is true 
I saved LeVal. From Fate's own arms I snatched 
My treachery's sequence, though his meantime pain 
Is ever writ against me. Yet I too 



88 THE MORTAL GODS 

Knew misery that might be mate of his. 

And for that other wrong — here where we stand 

Cha. My wrong to you ! Nay, don't forgive me that. 
Leave me a wound to keep me ever paying 
The debt of pain that solely eases guilt. 

Her. I had to choose, — Oh, agony of choice! — 
Between your death as certain as the night 
And your surrender to Megario, 
That seemed but death postponed, yet held a hope 
Worth any hazard. That you live is proof 
My choice was God's. My reasonless despair 
Held Heaven's sanity. Ah, that you live 
Is substance of reward, joy's permanent 
Sweet soil, but there's a flower to spring from that, 
A nodding ecstasy that I may pluck 
For my own bosom, — is there not? 

Cha. Don't — don't 

Her. You turn away? You've still a doubt of me? 
Then modesty may save her frigid self. 
I'll speak for love, the one best thing this side 
Of Heaven. You've taken my hand, and now my heart. 
And all myself would follow it. My heart, 
My body, and my risen soul. Yes, risen! 
My past of clay is quickened with a breath 
That waits not death to know itself immortal, 
And this is all my pride, that by that breath 
I'm rich enough to give myself to you. 

[She waits for him to speak. He makes no answer] 
I am rejected, having but my shame 
To cover naked love. Yet vanity 
Finds me this scanted shroud. Seeing you here. 
My hunger guessed at yours. I felt you came 
To seek me, else my heart, timid with fault, 
Had kept its silence, though my tongue had given 
As now a friend's good welcome. 



THE MORTAL GODS 89 

Cha. I have come, 

But not to you. 

Her. For why then? I've an ear 

Of caution. Let my veins, at too swift flood, 
Grow slow as prudence in what work you will. 
Now that our aims are near as once our hearts, 
You'll let me help? I swear by both our souls. 
And yours the dearer one, that our desires 
Are one bent bow, and if our arrows speed 
They'll kiss at the same mark. 

Cha. I'm fathoms deep, 

But in a sea as sweet as ever closed 
O'er drowned felicity! 

Her. Why are you here? 

Cha. To keep an oath! — that kept is our division. 
Yet forfeited would so untreasure me 
That being's god would blush dishallowed way 
Quite out such husk of man! 

Her. An oath? 

Cha. Oh, first 

In made self-curses I'll unload some part 
Of this stuffed loathing for the wretch I am! 

Her. Nay, I'll not listen. 

Cha. Star that was a maiden. 
Do not believe I loved you when my days 
Ran tribute at your feet, 

Her. Say anything 

But that. Those days were mine, and true. 

Cha. False, false! 

For love is generous as the heart of bounty, 
Giving defect perfection. Narrowed hours, 
Beseamed and flawed, take from its seer-lit eyes 
The unstinted, dear proportion secret yet 
In Time's full dream. 

Her. 'Twas I who failed 



90 THE MORTAL GODS 

Cha. Not you! 

That midnight moment held the dawn of this, 
All this that now you are, and love had seen 
The folded glory of yourself had love 
Been there to see. But I cast dust upon • 
Your sleeping wings, and did not know your heart 
Till wounds had laid it bare. 

Her. How could you know 

More than its native bosom where it dwelt 
Strange and unguessed? 

Cha. If I had loved, 

Such soul of fragrance had not hid from me 
This unbound blossoming. 

Her. We must forget 

Love's morning miracles forever missed. 
His fair, warm day is left us, — sunset's gold, 
And evening with the stars. That is enough 
For me and you 

Cha. My pledge! I'm here to meet 

Famette ! 

Her. Famette ! I know her. 

Cha. Know her! You? 

Her. And know she loves. Then it is you she waits? 

Cha. She saved my life. But that unvalued thing 
Is debt's mere rubble. 'Tis her love makes up 
The sum unpaid and out of reckoning. 
And I — how can I tell you? 

Her. If you loved, 

Look up. No shame can be where love has been. 

Cha. I've no defence, — yet say that you were lost 
In midmost desert sands, and suddenly 
A flower at your feet breathed of the woods 
And darkling velvet shade where rest might be. . . . 

Her. But that's a miracle. 



THE MORTAL GODS 91 

Cha. So was her love 

To me. Or say that flam and falsity 
Ensnarled your every way till no true thing 
Seemed left on earth, and then in lifted flash 
Truth's priestess eyes looked from a human face 
And you were loved, — what startled warmth would say 
Your heart yet lived? Would you keep back your life 
In barren hug? Deny its sunless gray 
To gentle eyes that asked but leave to lay 
Their radiance there? 

Her. I understand. She gave. 
And I demanded. So the gods decree 
Her boughs shall bloom and mine go bare. 

Cha. Oh, Heaven! 

Her. You love her, Chartrien? 
— iJha. Silence be on that. 

Her. I'll know it, — hear you say it. Is your heart 
Mine, or Famette's? 

Cha. My life is hers. 

Her. Your heart! 

Cha. Is yours. 

Her. Ah! Then — I give you to Famette. 

[He kneels to kiss her hand. Hudibrand appears in door 
of house, left. Smiles, and crosses to them] 

Hud. Up to her lip, you rogue ! A humble suitor 
Gets humble favors. 

Cha. [Rising] You, my lord? 

Hud. Your hand, 

My boy. 

Cha. It was my head you wanted, sir, 
When last we met. 

Hud. Not so. I meant to save you. 

But Hernda spiked my train. To have you die 
Quite safely in a rumor was the sum 
Of my intent against you. 



92 THE MORTAL GODS 

Cha. You're not well, 

My lord? 

Hud. Most well! 

Her. He's lost some sleep. 

Hud. Tut, tut! 

Cha. You stay full long in Goldusan. I thought 
You nearer home. 

Hud. I'm cruising in the gulf, 

By th' morning papers, — the reliable ones. 
The gutter rags have guessed me, — but no matter. 
I've seen the play through, and I go to-morrow. 
Pouf ! It has been a game! 

Cha. You speak as 'twere 

At end. 

Hud. It ends to-day. [Looks at ivatch] 

'Tis just the hour. 
Now Vardas is proclaimed the president 
Of a liberated people. 

Cha. What of that? 

Hud. He's bowing now. "I thank you, gracious 
friends. 
Most loyal citizens " 

Cha. What's that to do 

With freedom's war? 

Hud. It merely ends it. 

Cha. What? 

You think we fought for that? A change of caps 
Upon two brigands' heads? 

Hud. Tut, you've won more. 

You with some justice warred on Cordiaz, 
But Vardas is of heart so liberal 
His people shall be rich in privileges 
As many and as fair as in Assaria. 
Myself will vouch it. 



THE MORTAL GODS 93 

Cha. I will vouch it too. 

As many pits fed with the souls of men, 
As many images of God deformed 
In lawless fray to hold the peaks of greed 
And at the top sit on their goblin gold 
Content with bestial purr, who might have touched 
The heavens with song. 

Hud. Is that for me, my boy? 

Cha. As many lives tramped out in hunger's scramble. 
As many factories where driven wives 
Forget the altar dream of babes and home. 
As many sweating traps where flames may feed 
On flesh of maidens, leaving still, charred bones 
Whose only fortune is to ache no more. 
As many brazen mills that noise their thrift 
Above the ceaseless shuttle of small feet, 
While you, the great arch-master, think none hears 
That drowned pattering. As many marts 
Where, in law's shadow, girl-eyed slaves are sold 
To blows and lust. As many cripples thrown 
Upon the dump-heap of a soulless Peace, 
Each season piled to moaning wreck more high 
Than ever War made in its darkest year. 
As many holes where life must lie with death 
For privilege of sleep. Oh, I could give 
Black instances till yonder sun be set 
Nor end your loathsome list! 

Hud. A rare, hot sermon, 

But I'm not Providence, that from my hand 
Must pour unfailing bounty. 

Cha. Humble, sir? 

T thought you claimed a power that gave the world 
The shape you chose. 

Hud. But I must use the stuff 

I find here. That I can't remake or change. 



94 THE MORTAL GODS 

So must my world show flaws and ugly spots 
Due to its substance, not to my good pattern. 

Cha. That stuff, sir, is the same that lifted us 
From four feet up to two! The elements 
That played like death upon it but aroused 
Their conqueror. In the embrace of winds 
It made us ships and gave us wings. From dust. 
The very dust that choked it, grew the dream 
That lifts it deathless, an eternized God. 
And surely as your grip makes it a slave, 
You teach it freedom. In your clutch 'twill find 
Once more the need creative, and upswell 
With power that shall leave you by the way 
As heaving seas leave straws upon the sand. 
You shall be nothing. As a dream that dies 
With waking — lost so utterly 
The sleeper knows not that it was — so you 
Shall be a vanished thing that man born free 
Can not reclothe in guess ! 

Hud. Peonia's sun 

Has touched your wits. You still think of revolt .^^ 

Cha. I think of victory. 

Hud. Your comedy 

Is past its hour. Come, Chartrien, give it up. 
Confess the war is done. 

Cha. Bolderez' guns 

Will make confession of another sort. 

Hud. O, ho ! I see a light. You have not heard 
The morning news. Bolderez has come in. 

Cha. Come in? Your couriers flatter you. He holds 
The heights of Gila with five thousand men. 

Hud. That's yesterday. To-day those brave five thou- 
sand 
Are soldiers of united Goldusan. 
Bolderez is adviser to the State, 



THE MORTAL GODS 95 

A tinker in high place, who solders fast 
The civic split 

Cha. You dream! This is not true! 

Her. Yes, Chartrien, it is true. We've lost Bolderez. 

Cha. He — has — deserted? 

Hud. No, he proves him loyal 

To me, his master. 

Cha. You? 

Hud. He served me always. 

You fool, this was my revolution. 

Cha. Yours? 

Hud. Bolderez led my troops. It was for me 
You fed his bony beggars. Ha! For me 
You stuffed their hungry pockets with your gold ! 
I loosed your fortune when I knew 'twould save 
My own a gouge. But I've not dodged the score. 
Those guns and horses for the Gazza scare 
Cost me some paper 

Cha. You? My God! Your war? 

Hud. 1 knew the storm would sweep out Cordiaz, 
So strode its back that I might hold the bit 
When came my hour. My boy, you fought for me. 
I made you do it, — I, whom you have said 
Shall be as nothing. Where's the mighty sea 
Shall toss me as a straw 

Her. O, father, peace! 

You see he dies! 

Hud. Don't waste your tears. He'll live. 

I've made good oxen out of wilder bulls. 

Her. He cannot live! The pain of it, the pain! 
When aspirations have returned as wounds. 
Then even the soul must die! 

Hud. They all get up. 

Stout workers too, — quiet, serviceable, 
Pestered no more with dreams. Here, give him this. 

[Offers a flash] 



96 THE MORTAL GODS 

Cha. [Rousing, pushing flask aside] Ay, no more dreams. 
[Springs up] But action! Keep Bolderez. 
We have LeVal, whose undiscouraged heart 
Bears on its tide the conquering desire 
Of twenty thousand men! 

Hud. Humph! Where are these 

Invisible veterans? 

Cha. Some gather now 

About his banner, — some wait in the hills 
Till they are sure it is his voice that calls, — 
Some in your favor wrapped go to and fro 
In your own camp, feeding a fire your gold 
Can never light, — some dream till we have oped 
Their prison doors, — in every part and corner 
Of Goldusan, there*s courage on the leap 
To reach his side. 

Hud. What dribble! 

Cha. Rein this storm? 

No human hand, nor Heaven's now, may leash it. 
It is the throe when travailing Life is shaken 
In absolute birth that makes undreamed news 
Even in the ear of God. 

Hud. Fanatic ! Fool ! 

Have I not tried to teach you 

Cha. Teach yourself! 

Hud. Come, come! 

Cha. I mean the words. The race has learned 

Its lesson while you've played with sand. At last 
The dumb, trod way has spoken 'neath man's feet. 
And by that word uncovered he has learned 
What he shall not be, — knows what heights of sun 
Are his, and seeing takes his road, — no more 
Battering in wild and bruised ignorance 
A destiny of stone. Ay, consciousness 
Has wakened in itself the unknown god 
That gives the race its eyes. You, you a king? 



THE MORTAL GODS 97 

Who do not know that every man is heir 
To kingship that must leave such thrones as yours 
Outcoursed and Httle recked as the strewn toys 
Of childhood! 

Hud. Mud-sill dynasties. You know 
That I am master. 

Cha. Master? You believe 

That man, at top of conquest, who has made 
Nature his weariless serf, and set the yoke 
From his own neck on her divinities, 
Will seal to you — weak, myriadth part of him— 
Those wizard captives bending to the dream 
Of his new world .^ Gird you with fortune that 
He wrenched from stony ages? — let you gorge 
The magic fruit snatched by his perilled being 
In starward battle up the abysmal steep? 

Hud. I am a fact, — not words. 

Cha. You can believe it? 

At last on dawn-browed heights, with victor foot 
On mysteries bound the genii of his wish. 
He'll trail his hopes to kennel? Let you pluck 
His universe unflowered, and shrink life 
To growling brevity 'tween lash and bone? 
A slave to you ? Obstructive clod. 
Who could not stir with one life-budding dream 
Though holy imagination tipped with fire 
Should score her script upon you! 

[A physical pain overcomes Hudihrand. Hernda runs to 
his side. He regains composure his manner forbidding 
solicitude] 

Hud. I am patient. 
One word of mine would send you manacled 
To prison. If you are here to lay down arms 

Cha. I'm not. 



98 THE MORTAL GODS 

Her. O, father ! The amnesty ! 

Hud. That shelter 

Is not for him! 

Cha. Then speak your word, and learn 
You fight not men but man. Wide as the world 
His spirit blows against you, and little part 
You'll cage in this one shackled body. 

Hud. One? 

We'll drag the earth, or net the pack of you! 
LeVal, marauding ghost, we'll prick his blood 
Beneath his spectral mask. And that mad trull, 
Famette, your holy maid 

Cha. She's safe from you ! 

God is about her as she walks among 
Your hope-lorn slaves and touches their dead hearts 
To life. 

Hud. To folly they are sick of! Ah, 
Once more I've news. Your swarthy Joan has fled. 
And all her magic warriors of a day 
Again are beggars. 

Cha. Fled? 

Hud. To her cactus lair. 

But she'll trapse back between two bayonets. 
Stripped of her phantom wings. 

Cha. She is not gone. 

That heart of truth! When she deserts LeVal 
There'll be a breach in Heaven, and fiends may claim 
The day for hell and you. 

Hud. 'Tis mine without 
Such warm avouch. Your chaparral cock and hen 
Have parted company. Her followers now. 
Cursing and naked, straggle to our camps 

Her. Your pardon, sir! You are deceived. 

Hud. Ho, ho! 



THE MORTAL GODS 99 

Her. They're with LeVal. Not one stout heart is lost. 
Famette but lends her captaincy to his 
In needful absence 

Hud. You are much too wise. 

Her. I know Famette. 

Hud. You — what? Know her? 

Her. I do. 

Hud. This is the fruit of that mad jaunt, 
Through Goldusan! Where have you seen her? 

Her. Here. 

Hud. Not here? That woman? Are you mad, my 
girl? 

Her. I love Famette. If we were one, I'd be 
But cinders in her saintly fire. 

Hud. Here, miss? 

You've had her with you? Sniffed and cheeped together, 
And drowned my kingdom in a gossip cup? 

Her. If men, the bravest, are but flies upon 
Your monarch ermine, that with careless shake 
You scatter, can you fear a woman? 

Hud. What? 

Mocked by a chit? I fear? You mannerless filly, 
I've let you plunge and ramp o'er all my fields, 
But I'll not have you whinnying at the fence 
Till roadside jades break through! She has been here? 

Her. She has. Dined at my board, slept in my bed. 
And so shall do again. 

Hud. I'll welcome her! 

And send you trucking home! You shall not wait 
For any whimsy this or that ! 

Her. But, sir, 

Hud. No trumpery packing, — no unready whine! 
This hour! That you should moil your royalty 
Touching such scum! 



100 THE MORTAL GODS 

Her, Nay, I was scum until she gave me substance. 
I had no soul until she made hers mine, 
No cleanliness of heart till I knew hers. 
No knowledge till I looked through her clear eyes. 
No riches till I wrapped me in her rags 

Hud. You're raving! 

Her. No. x\h, father, father, I'm 

Famette, — ^your daughter! I've not been in Cana, 
But in the pits your greed has dug, — down, down 
Where misery is so vile its own abyss 
Shudders to hold it. Chartrien, now you know 
My tale untold. I see your mind runs back 
To light a way it travelled in the dark. 
O, you were blind! I'd know you near though masked 
In utter change. 

Cha. I'm folded now in sun 
That makes me blind again. Are you Famette? 

Her. [Showing her bared arm] See this brown circlet 
left that you might find 

A trace of her? I've crossed the universe 

Through hell — and reached you, have I not? 

Cha. [Embracing her] All sweet 

Forfending stars now heap their fortunes one 
And drop it on my heart that borrows heaven 
To hold the imponderable gift! 

Her. Ah, poor Famette! 

Cha. 'Twas you — in that foul hacienda pen? 
And would not speak? 

Her. I meant to save you, sir. 

And had I told you then, would you have set 
So blithely off to Quito? 

Cha. And left you there! 

How can you think it? 

Her. Do I, sir? Nay, love, 

Nor ever did. I knew you'd ruin all 
With your big "won'ts" and "don'ts.' 



THE MORTAL GODS 101 

Cha. O, sagest heart! 

But here you kept my joy-gates shut so long. 
Why such slow mercy, golden one? 

Her. You'll hear it? 

There is a teasing devil in me, Chartrien, 
That must have play. 

Cha. Ah, no! 

Her. Ay, and an ounce 

Or so of cruelty, that would not let 
Your frailty go unpinched. 

Cha. Nay, 'tis not so! 

Her. You'd rather think I put to royal test 
Your godship? Wooed with lips so near your own. 
And found you stanch to honor? That may be, 
But I've a shameless reason dearer still. 
I wanted all your love for Hernda, — all. 
And had I said too soon that we were one, 
Then on your breast my heart had never known 
Which maid you clasped. 

Cha. You ever, sweet! 

Her. Yet she 

Is dear. My joy could never be content 
Within your heart beside unfaith to her. 
She must have room there, not in name of love. 
But truth. So you shall hold us both. 

Cha. Like this! 

Grow to my heart, O garland of myself ! 
Be breath of me, till, like a double tree. 
Root, sap, and bloom are one. 
And in our noble fruiting Time forgets 
To mourn Hesperides! 

Her. Heaven hold thy wish 

The prayer thou meanest it ! 

Cha. One bliss is man's 

The perfect angels know not. In the arms, 



102 THE MORTAL GODS 

Warm, rhythmic, round his batthng soul, to feel 
Spur of his noblest blood, and know his dreams 
Are mated, — find in lightest winds that stir 
Love's tremulous hair, the brave wing of his hope 
That needs go farthest, — and when seasons fail. 
And weary spirit turns from waste to waste. 
Know lips that he may touch and touching kiss 
The fallow world to harvest. Thus, and thus! 

[Hudibrandy forgotten by the lovers, has fought through 
another moment of agony, and advances, taking hold 
of Hernda] 

Hud. Are you my daughter? 

Her. I am, but I've known hours 

When shame, a cleansing fire, searched through my blood 
For any drop that owned you father. 

Hud. In! 

Go in! [To Chartrien] And you — I'll rid the earth of you, 
And take its thanks ! [Staggers with a return of pain] 

Her. [Her arms about him] O, father, let us help! 
What is it, father? 

Hud. Nothing. Keep away! 
Away! 

[Throws her off. Enter, lower right y an officer attended] 

Off. Your majesty, there's sure report 
LeVal makes ready to oppose his guns 
To our weak garrison. 

Hud. [Ironic] The spectre's near? 

Off. iVcross the stream, — the east and wooded bank. 
A hundred times our force could not dislodge 
His guns from such a vantage. 

Hud. Guns? LeVal? 

He has no guns! 

Off. You'll hear them soon. I beg 

Your highness' pardon, but your dignity 
Would not be touched if you should hasten out. 
[Enter, lower left, Golifet, Diraz, Mazaran] 



THE MORTAL GODS 103 

GoL My lord! 

Hud. What is this tale? You, Golifet? 
You are in charge! 

Gol. 'Tis treachery, sir! I warned 

Your majesty 

Hud. Come, what's the story? 

Gol. This. 

Bolderez' officers whom we gave leave 
To station near us, thus to put more guard 
Between the town and rebels that might creep 
Down from the hostile hills 

Hud. This egg's all shell. 

Come, sir, the meat! 

Gol. They were in secret yoked 
Most traitorously with LeVal, and all their men 
Were coupled to his cause. They gave him cover 
To lead his army up 

Hud. His army, sir? 

Gol. His followers 

Hud. There may be treachery 

Uncapped among us. 

Gol. 'Twas by your advice 
We gave them leave to camp 

Hud. I trusted fools! 

Or traitors! You've a choice of names. 

Off. I beg 

Your majesty to come with us. They'll fire 
At any moment. 

Hud. Fire? Then we shall know 
At last where v/e may find LeVal. You've wired 
To Vardas, Golifet? He must despatch 
The Federal Guards 

Gol. It is too late. 

Hud. Too late? 

Maz. We can not save the town. 



104 THE MORTAL GODS 

Of. The citizens 

Are fleeing. Do not delay, your majesty! 
[Fire of guns is heard] 

Hud. Cowards! Before you fly, arrest that man. 
Look to it, GoHfet. You'U answer for him. 
Let him be trebly guarded. 

Gol. Is not this 

The missing lord. Prince Chartrien? 

Hud. Ay, that traitor! 

Gol. At this hot juncture, prudence must forbid 
A needless insult to the enemy 
That may too soon be master. 

Hud. Insult ! 

Gol. Come, 

My lord. 

Hud. By every god that was or is 

[Guns again heard] 

Gol. Please you, retire, your majesty ! 

[Men gather excitedly from different parts of the grove. 
Guests and servants desert the house] 

Maz. Come, come! 

[A shell breaches the wall, rear. Stones fly among the 
trees. The house is battered and portico torn away] 

Hud. Grant me this favor. Let me be the last 
To leave the Grove of Peace. Ha, ha! The last! 

Her. Come, father! 

Hud. Go! I've asked a favor, friends. 

[They turn from him and pass slowly out. Hernda and 
Chartrien remain] 

Her. Now you will come? 

Hud. When you have gone ! Go, go ! 

[More shells. Chartrien carries Hernda away, lower left] 

Hud. [Alone, racked with pain] My foe is nearer than 
those feeble guns. 
Bah! I could crush them! Here I am fordone. 



THE MORTAL GODS 105 

No, no! I'll not surrender. I will live! 
I'll keep my world. I fought for it, and won. 
'Tis mine! I will not leave it to these mice 
To scramble over. [The agony seizes him] 

A coward foe, that gives 
No even chance. Strikes from the dark, with blade 
Tempered secure in undiscovered fire, 

Shall then the world go on and I not here? 

I shall be here, — a pile of dust, no more, 

That is the hell of hells, — while other dead. 

Who made them souls here out of faith and clay. 

Race on unflagging, — on and leave me still, — 

The everlasting mute! Souls? That's 

a lie. 
A ranting, tom-tom lie, to ease us on 
-Tlie wheel. I'll none of that. The sick mind's pap! 
Imagination's vent, lest misery 
O'er-rack the world! Protective fume 
Enclouding man's last grapple till none see 
If he or Death be victor, and on the doubt 
He rides to Heaven ! . . . 
. . . Was 't truth that Chartrien spoke? 
The race has found its eyes? Man is no more 
A blind and hopeless struggler cornered fast 
By ills unconquerable? — his lusting wars. 
Diseases, hungers, Hudibrands? Then what 
A chance was there, my heart? If I had fought 
Upon his side ! . . . That battle would have made 
Red Fate throw down her bludgeon, — won us place 

To vanward of the gods ! If I had fought 

With him Obstructive 

clod! My God! My God? 

[He dies. Sunset has passed, and the darkness grows rap- 
idly until nothing is seen but the gleam of a fallen croicn. 
Curtain] 



A SON OF HERMES 
A COMEDY IN FIVE ACTS 



CHARACTERS 

BIADES, a young Athenian 

PELAGON, his uncle 

SACHINESSA, wife of Pelagon 

PHANLA., their daughter 

SYBARIS, a neighbor s daughter 

CREON, friend of Blades 

AMENTOR, a senator 

MEN AS, friend of Pelagon 

CLEARCHUS, an Athenian youth disguised as a dancer 

PHILON, a priest 

STESILAUS, a lord of Sparta 

PYRRHA, his daughter 

ARCHIPPE, his wife 

ALCANOR, his son 

LYSANDER, friend of Stesilaus 

HIERON, a young Spartan 

AGIS, LENON, GIRARDAS, his friends 

DIANESSA, MYRTA, THEONIS, NACIA, ARTANTE, Spar- 
tan maidens 
THE EPHORS 

Senators, citizens, soldiers, dancers, etc. 



ACT I 

Scene: Pelagoris garden^ Athens. Wall, reaVy shutting off 
street. Upper rights path to street gate. Upper and 
middle lefty entrances to Pelagon's house. Lower left, 
path to a neighbor's dwelling. Lower right, path lead- 
ing deeper into garden. 

[Enter, upper left, Pelagon, Stesilaus and Lysander] 

Lys. A gracious senate! If such welcome keys 
The tune to come, then our ambassadry 
Is concord's instrument, and we may bear 
Fair music back to Sparta. 

*S/^. Tut, the smiles 

Of Athens are as flying leaves, divorced 
From the tree's heart, as apt to light 
On vagrancy as merit. 

Pel. Stesilaus 

Bears hard as truth. Yet I was warmed to note 
The council's greeting. 

Ste. Ever Sparta's friend! 

Pel. And friend of peace. The age no more can bear 
The locked alarum of our rivalling States. 
We must the groaning tussle bring to end, 
Or ends the world. 

Lys. 'Twas wisdom's cue you gave us, — 

To say we had our Sparta's sovereign word 
For Athens' terms. 

Pel. Ay, hold your embassage 

Unstrictured, friends. In that lies flattery 
Each lord will take to himself and thereon feed 

109 



110 ASONOFHERMES 

A grace which will, in sort, come back to you. 
What hour was fixed for answer? I lost that. 

Lys. The last hour of the sun. 

Pel, The crier stood 

Wrong side of my good ear, and I'll not twist 
To set the gossips nudging me to th' grave. 
Robbed in a shrug of twenty grizzled years. 

[Looks about the garden] 
Where's Blades? He's always trailing here, 
Save in the tick of need. I'd have him bid 
The ambassadors lie at my house. Lysander, 
You'll be my suitor to your comrades? Say 
We've heart and room for all. 

Lys. For all, my lord? 

Pel. And more! 

[Exit Lysander] 

Ste. My Sparta thanks you, Pelagon. 

Pel. Nay, such an honor shall not pass me, sir. 
Now where is Blades? 

Ste. Your nephew, friend? 

Pel. Ay, Stesilaus. Bar my blood in him, 
He'll fasten on your heart. 

Ste. Report has been 

Too dear his friend. What buzz about a youth 
Of twenty-five! Sir, Attica is mad 
To give him captainship. In Sparta now. 
The spurring callant would be kept in ranks, 
And yoked with Prudence till he learned her jog. 

Pel. In ranks! I see him! Well, just in your ear. 
He sweeps a pretty curvet. With my wife 
His slave, and Phania neck-deep in love, 
He rides the very comb of my poor house. 
If you would say to him, hold here or there, 
I'd take it not amiss. But I do love him. 
And now a bout with th' cook. The pest sends word 



ASONOFHERMES 111 

A double score of sudden guests are all 
He'll have at table. Mine own table, sir! 
Ha, there is Biades! He'll wait upon you. 
Pray touch him as I've hinted. But no word 
About our daughters, friend. We'll let that lie. 
[Exit upper left. Enter Biades upper right] 

Bia. Most noble Stesilaus, my heart greets you! 

Ste. Greeting to Biades, whom Athens makes 
Her general! 

Bia. Would, my lord, this dignity 
Were laid on senior years. Your Sparta's way 
Is best, — to keep the cool, meridian bays 
From youth-flushed brows. My moist and charmed eyes 
Spoke inward to my soul when they beheld 
The ambassadors before the council, each 
With staff unneeded, and gray locks that seemed 
As wisdom's holy place. 

Ste. You sat with us? 

I did not mark you there. 

Bia. I kept in modest shadow, 

Which is youth's fairest mantle, — though my rank 
Moves back for none. But, sir, the Spartan elders! 
Ah, might I see more men in Athens who 
Thus honor age, and age that honors men! 

Ste. Breathe that into your shrines. 

Bia. The gods who smile 

On folly young, must weep when reverend years 
And wisdom part. Mayhap you've noticed, sir. 
In my good uncle here .... a falling off. 
I would not speak but that I know your eyes 
Can not keep curtain when the blabbing sun 
Makes it no secret. 

Ste. Somewhat I have seen. 

Bia. Somewhat will grow to much ere you take leave. 

Ste. I fear it, Biades. 



112 ASONOFHERMES 

Bia. And yet, my lord, 

Time has not carried him ahead of you 
More years than half a score. 

Ste. 'Tis t'other way. 

I'm elder by that much. 

Bia, Not you, my lord? 

[Muses flatteringly] 
The Spartan way is best. Was 't Pelagon 
Led you to say you had full power to treat 
With Athens? 

Ste. It was he. 

Bia, I thought it. [Sighs] Sir, 

In the Athenian mind there dwells a child 
No length of days can age. We do not grow 
As Spartans. But our vanity's no dwarf. 
Tops with the highest, you've some cause to know. 

Ste. What of 't? Unlatch! unlatch! 

Bia. The people, sir, 

Always our rearward urge, knowing you've power 
To assent to all they ask, will ask for more 
Than all. 

Ste. Think'st that? 

Bia. In your brave time you've met 

Athenians of the best. Didst ever know 
One modest? — slow to ask for what he thought 
His own? — or what he might by mere demand 
Make his? 

Ste. They are well stomached, — true. No doubt 
They'll press us far. 

Bia. They will. And if refused, — 

Well, they are children, — and must bite and scratch. 
With strutting rage, may pelt you out of Athens. 
But why not say you are in part empowered. 
And must return to Sparta with the terms 
Before a vowed conclusion? 



A SON OF HERMES 113 

Ste, Late for that, 

Young sir. The tongue we used to the Council 
Must serve in the Assembly. We have said 
We have full power. 

Bia. To treat, not to assent. 

That was your word. 

Ste. Hmm! Now the cloud is off 

The dunce's script, and I read clear why you 
At twenty-five have Athens' voice to sail 
'Gainst Syracuse. 

[Re-enter Pelagon] 

Bia. No word unto my uncle! 

Ste. My brain will serve. 

Pel. They've come, — your comrades, — all! 

If honor now were substance, my poor walls 
Would groaningly unroof and beg the sky 
For room to embrace it! Go you, Biades. 
Repeat my welcome, with increase of grace 
Your tongue is rich in. 

[Exit Biades, upper left] 

Now the full time comes. 
We'll speak of that that's centre of our hearts, — 
Our daughters, friend. This is the hour that ends 
A watch of twenty years. 

Ste. A patient score. 

So long your daughter has been mine, so long 
Has mine been yours. 

Pel. Like flower upon a stalk 

Long nursed and tended, comes the end upon 
This day of budding peace. You've had no whiff, 
No hint untoward, that what we did had best 
Been left undone? 

Ste. Sir, what I do, I do! 

When we changed babes not past their cradle sleep, 
My mind then glossed the act with comment fair 



114 ASONOFHERMES 

As our unfructured hope. So does it still. 
By Nestor, though I'm thitherward of prime, 
There's none will say that with accreted years 
I moult sagacity! 

Pel. Eh, so! 'Twaswell. 

I've never doubted it. Here have I reared 
Your Phania, Spartan-thewed, who now shall home 
With Athens' gentle nurture in her veins 
To hither yearn in blood of every son 
She bears to Sparta. And you my Pyrrha bring 
Back to her land to live a Spartan dame 
Among Athenian mothers. So we feed 
The unity we dream on, — quicken time, 
Foresued, to give our tousing, touchy States 
One civic heart. 

Ste. Has Sachinessa kept 

A secret tongue? 

Pel. A nut not closer sits 

About its kernel. And your wife, my friend? 
What of Archippe? Did she hold for long 
Against the exchange? 

Ste. She did. Nor ever learned 

To love your Pyrrha. For that cause, — and that 
Our even trust might move with even faith, 
Nor odds of grace to you, — I've stood her guard, 
And made her comrade where a son might claim 
The dearest post. 

Pel. Good thanks, my Stesilaus. 

From your wife's audit I'd not brush a doit, 
But to the credit of my dame can set 
A fairer sum. ^Eneas' curled lad 
Lay not more dearly in his Dido's lap 
Than your sweet Phania in the swaddling love 
Of Sachinessa. Ay, she'll swear me now 
That not to gain her own will she give up 
Her foster darling. 



ASONOFHERMES 115 

Ste. Humph ! 

Pel. The Httle duck! 

She has so chucked herself into my heart 
'Twill put me sad about to oust her. 

Ste. Duck! 

When I lose Pyrrha, sir, that hour I lose 
This good right arm! 

Pel. [Meditative] Hmm! So! ... . Come, my friend. 
The dinner's toward, and the host astray. 
The love's deep-vouched that puts such duty off 
For one more word. [Pauses as they move left] 

We'll give no open voice 
To our most dear concern till we have met 
Our daughters. 

Ste. [Gloomy] Met our daughters! Have it so. 

[Exeunt upper left. Enter, middle left, Phania and Biades] 

Bia. Come, Phania! The old cocks are off. 

Pha. They're gone.^^ 

Bia. Good flitting too ! I feared they'd perch till night, 
Crowing the deeds of Stesilaus the Great 
And Pelagon the Wise. 

Pha. These Spartans! If 

They'd rest their clubs without the door, our shins 
Would give them thanks. Why are we so besieged? 

Bia. Why, Phania, why.^ Because your father dotes 
On dull and sodden peace that never was 
Save in an old man's dream. We dine our foes! 
The city must throw ope her gates, forsooth. 
Lest the dear enemy should take some hurt 
Scaling the walls ! They'd bleed us as we sleep, 
And Pelagon would vow the sword at 's throat 
Were Sachinessa's dozing kiss. 

Pha. Ho, hear 

The captain speak! You go to Syracuse, 
And not content? 'Tis well there's one cries peace. 



116 ASONOFHERMES 

Bia. What's Syracuse? To conquer Sparta, — that 
Were warrior's work ! Your father robs me of it, 
Bringing the water where I set my fires. 
But come! I've not made love to a soul to-day 
Save ancient Sparta. Ha! it is an art 
That should be spared such sweat. The Heavens mean 
That I shall pull to yoke these two days left, 
And love take beggar's chance. 

Pha. Ah, but two days! 

Bia. Come to our myrtle nook 

Pha. Nay, Sybaris 

Might turn me out. That is her royal seat 
When you'll play consort. 

Bia. What, my Phania? Dour? 

Does Creon keep away? 

Pha. I'm not for him. 

You know it, Biades. 

Bia. But he does not. 

Too oft I find him here. 

Pha. And Sybaris 

Comes out of count, knowing you like this spot. 
Yon path is worn of every blade. 

Bia. Her feet 

Can be so cruel? 

Pha. You love her still! 

Bia. Nay, sweet. 

Not for three days. Believe me, cousin! 

Pha. Cousin! 

Athene save us ! See her now, — the plague ! 

Bia. By gentle Eros, Phania, we'll be kind. 
I loved her once. 

Pha. How tall she is! 

Bia. Ay, moves 

A very sylph! 

[Syharis comes on, lower right] 



ASONOFHERMES 117 

Syb, A fair day's greeting, friends! 

Bia. We double it for thee. 

Pha. My dearest Syb ! 

Do you turn snail, you keep your house so long? 
Why, hours, I think! 

Syb. Indeed ! 

Bia. Where lovers watch 

The dial, that's an age. 

Pha. Oh, so! 

Bia. [To Phania] Do I 

Not know.f^ 

Syb. An age? Af, love grows old and fades in 't. 

Bia. A thousand moons in journey o'er my love 
Would leave 't no withered hour ! By the fair soul 
Of one who knows me true! 

Syb. That is no woman. 

Pha. A pretty oath! 

Syb. But not a new one, dear. 

Bia. Plead, Phania, dove ! Let her not chide 
Poor penitence on knee. In two days' time 
I sail to war, yet stony Sybaris 

Would break love's wings with doubt — put me aboard 
With sighs to sink my ship 

Pha. Nay, Sybaris! 

I'll vow him constant now. 

Syb. Inconstancy 

Once stopped for breath, and fools came with a chair. 

Bia. No thaw in thee? Plead, Phania, sweet! Your 
lips 
Are unimpeached where mine too oft have worn 
Conviction's droop. 

Pha. Forgive, dear Sybaris! 

Bia. Ay, be my tongue! Tell her that as the bee 
Betrays the honey-buds yet hiveward flies, 
I've left all by-roads for the true home-path. 



118 ASONOFHERMES 

Syb. Then you have trailed all others stale. There's none 
Left new but that. 

Bia. Tell her when I have sailed 
From Athens' eyes into the sun that eve 
May skirt with blood 

Pha. No, no! 

Bia. — to w^alk with you 

The haven's brim, watching the waves that throw 
The sea-heart there, and know that from my ship 
Pulses a heart to love's dream-sandalled feet 
As constant as the sea to Athens' shore. 

[Sybaris moves relentingly nearer. Biades behind Phania^ 
who sits on bench^ leans to talk into her ear, but keeps 
his eyes tenderly on Sybaris] 
Ah, tell her, Phania, sleep is slow to come 
Where warriors bed, and unforgiven hours 
Are thorny comrades for an age-long night. 

Syb. Then here's my hand. Pray Pallas 'tis no fool's! 

Bia. Yours too, my Phania! In one breath I seal 
Judge and defender mine! [Kissing their hands] 

Now with my ship 
Will prayers go tendant, mending every sail 
That storm may batter. Typhon, whirl the sea 
To insurrection, — send her meekest wave 
To crinkle round the sun, and hiss from Heaven 
The mariner's port-star, — I shall be safe 
While I have implorators fair as ye 
To melt the gods! 

Syb. Ah, Biades, thou must 

Be loved or die. Is 't heart or vanity. 
That's so insatiate .f^ 

Pha. Nay, you have forgiven ! 

Syb. But will not coo yet. Is that Creon comes .^ 

[Looking to upper right] 
You'll meet him, Phania? 



A SON OF HERMES 119 

Pha, He knows his way. 

Bia. Has news! 

I'll pick the pigeon. [Goes up right] 

Pha. O, my Sybaris, 

Thanks for this generous peace ! But who could long 
Be harsh to Biades.'^ 

Syh. Such steel 's not in me. 

I but stood off, a shadow of resolve, 
To hear him w^oo me back. His coldest words 
Are ta'en from music, but when warm in suit, 
Then music sues to him. 

Pha. Woo you? Didst say 

Woo you? Couldst think — couldst dream — couldst let 

blind sense 
So flatter? 

Syh. Blind? Well, youVe no eye to lend. 

Pha. His words were all for me, and through my heart 
Were sifted to your ears. 

Syh. For you, my dear? 

Now what a gosling 'tis ! 

Pha. Oh! Ask him then! 

Syh. You'll beat that bush. I have no doubt in cover. 
[Biades returns with Creon] 

Cre. You'll not go out? 

Bia. No, friend. 

Cre. I warn you, sir! 

It is your reputation left i' the street 
That knocks for you. 

Bia. 'Twill care for itself. 

Cre. Nay, come! 

Soon every ear in Athens will be crammed 
Wi' the tale. 

Syh. What tale? 

Cre. 'Tis said that Biades 

Was cap and spur to riot that defaced 
The Hermae yesternight. 



120 ASONOFHERMES 

Bia. Denosed, you mean. 

Pha. O, do not jest ! I tremble, Blades ! 

Cre. You must o'ertake the lie, my lord, ere winds 
Be up with 't. 

Bia. Let it fly, my Creon. When 
Its wings are worn 'twill down for any heel 
To trample. 

Cre. Not this feather. It broods on the air. 
And its dark issue makes eclipse your sun 
Can push no beam through. 

Bia. Sinon's pate has hatched* 

The ebon chick. 

Cre. You're not far out. He wants 

The generalship. 

[Enter Hippargus, upper right] 

Bia. Here comes a tongue to market. 

Most purchasable, tho' neither cut nor dried. 

Cre. The senate's messenger! 

Bia. Greeting, Hippargus. 

Hip. Greeting, my lord, — and I must lay command 
On that, for you are charged on the instant to appear 
Before the Council. 

Bia. The instant? Cramped to that? 

And what to do there, sir? 

Hip. Give proof you touched 

With no profaning and injurious hand 
Our threshold gods. 

Bia. Go gently back, Hippargus, 

And tell the senators I pardon them, 
Knowing they do mistake. They would not lay 
So dull an antic on me, and this charge 
Is meant for Bico, my fat monkey here. 
Whom they may have for trial. 

Hip. Spare such jest, 

My worthy lord. A hundred tongues have sworn 
You said in open street, nor cared who heard. 



ASONOF HERMES 121 

The guardian Hermae might be nipped of ears, 
And noses too, yet serve our pious turn, 
Since they smell out no faults and citizens 
Confess none. 

Bia. Ah ! Do they make wit a crime, 

Who have no taint of its color? Say 'twere red 
The senators would never be mistook 
For woodpeckers. Gods ! When they prate, I know 
Athene's owl is stuffed, and her wise serpent 
An old-year slough ! Off now ! Your pannier's full. 
Trot and unpack. 

[Exit Hippargus] 

Cre. Out! Follow, and deny 

This answer! Dare you, standing on the top 
And slippery point of fortune, throw your cap 
In Heaven's face? 

Bia. Dare I do less? No, friend. 
The Council fears me, and would see me down. 
My power is in the people, who for gold 
And merry flattery give me their love. 
But now they're on the quibble how to turn, 
To me or Sinon. I'll not let them see 
My oflfice brought to question, and myself 
Outfaced by perjurers in Sinon's keep. 
Nay, when they find I'm not the senate's groom, 
But know myself, their pride will know me too. 
And I shall go to bed as I rose up, 
The Athenian general. 

Cre. The street will bellow. 

I'll listen to it, and pick interpretation 
From 'ts roar. You'll come with me? 

Bia. Though oracles. 

On every curb and step, begged audience, 
I'd not go out. 

[Exit Creon] 



122 ASONOFHERMES 

Pha. Oh, me! 

Bia. Why so? I'm not a hare 

To jump because a leaf falls. Wag the hour, 
And Pleasure wait on us ! If she fill not 
My cup to-day, I fear it must go empty 
A good twelvemonth. There are fair maids 
In Syracuse, but they'll peer on me through 
A crimson lattice. 

Pha. You'll not see them, sir! 

Or break a thousand oaths ! So oft you've sworn 
No beauty out of Athens could persuade 
Your eyes to worship. 

Syb. Then the Spartan maid 

Lodged here will let him sleep. 

Bia. What maid is this? 

Pha. Why, Pyrrha, — Stesilaus' daughter. 

Bia. Here? 

Pha. Ay, everybody's here. 

Syb. I saw her leave 

The chariot. Such clothes! 

Pha. No clothes, you mean! 

Syb. [In shocked aside] Just to the knees ! 

Pha. And open to the hips ! 

Syb. You say it! 

Pha. And manners, none. I took her nuts 

And sugared poppy seeds. She said she kept 
No parrot. 

Syb. Here's a guest! 

Pha. And when I said 

I lived on them 

Bia. My dainty! 

Pha. — then she asked 

If that made me so little! 

Bia. Ay, they feed 

To grow in Sparta. Breed but monsters there. 



ASONOFHERMES US 

No arts, no grace, no soft and tendrilled speech 

That creeps to ends of being and looks back 

Exultant and afraid. They are not men, 

But, wearing human port, would force on us 

A beastly comradeship. Set me to woo 

A toad bred in a ditch of Attica, 

But not a maid of Sparta! Were she fair 

As was Persephone when she drew the god 

From nether earth, yet sprung from that hard soil, 

I'd let her beauty pass. 

Syb. Hist, Biades! 

She's yonder. 

[They look middle left, where Pyrrha appears] 

Pha. I like the garden best when 't wears 
Pale Cybele's gown. Apollo makes it harsh 
In black and gold — Ah, Pyrrha ! You have found 
Our blossomy corner. Welcome to it, and know 
My neighbor, Sybaris, — and Biades. 

Pyrr. I greet you, friends of Athens. 

Pha. Will you sit? 

Bia. [Who has not removed his gaze from her since her 
entrance] A walk ! That was your wish. 
I'll show the paths. 

Syb. Nay, here's a seat. 

Bia. There's Artystone's rose. 
Brought from the Mysian stream 

Pha. She'll stay with us. 

Bia. The ivory cup of Isis, where each night 
Her one tear falls, — and flowers whose sisters blow 
In walled Ecbatana. 

Syb. Come, sit by me. 

Dear Pyrrha. 

Pyrr. I would see the garden. 

Syb. [Rising] Would .^ 

We'll guide you then. 



124 ASONOFHERMES 

Pha. Ay, who would dawdle here? 

Bia. But rest a moment, Pyrrha. I mind me now. 
That from this spot the eye may best o'ersweep 
The full design. Yon mass of planes 

Pyrr. I'll walk 

Alone. [Moves ofy lower right] 

Syb. Well! 

Pha. Said I not? 

Syb. Does nothing that 

She's asked! And stares as though a woman's eyes 
Were made to see with, when their chiefest use 
Is not to see! 

Pha. Crude as her Spartan rocks! 

Bia. I'll follow. 

Syh. Nay, she'd walk alone! 

Bia. She's Athens' guest. 

I'll not be rude, whatever lack in her 
Provokes me to it. 

Pha. Nor shall I, by all 

The grace in th' world! 

Syb. You shame us, Biades. 

We'll go with you. 

[Each takes an arm of Biades as he goes right. Pelagon 
entersy upper left] 

Pel. Daughter, this way ! 

[Phania returns reluctantly. The others pass off, right] 

Pel. My chick, — 

Nay, I'll be brief. I know young feet would flock. 

Pha. O, father dear, I'd please you first! [Kissing him] 

Pel. Well, well! 

You've seen Lord Stesilaus? 

Pha. Just a peek. 

Pel. Nay, he's no bear. 

Pha. He'll bite though. I know that. 



ASONOFHERMES 125 

Pel. Now, Phania, now! I have a reason, miss, 
A most dear reason you should win the love 
Of Stesilaus. 

Pha. Love! 

Pel. I mean, my duck, 

A father's gentle love. 

Pha. But, daddy, he's 

So tall! 

Pel. He has a heart, my daughter. 

Pha. Fum! 

Are you so sure? 

Pel. Find it the shortest w^ay. 
Remember he's your — hmm! — remember — hmm! — 
That he's a man — as I am — and his pride 
But April frost. Be as he were myself 

Pha. As you? Oh, dear! [Under his arm] 
And must I cuddle so? 
Nay, that's for my own fa-fa! 

Pel. Little Phania! 

I'll lose my pipit, — lose my bonny bird! 

Pha. Lose me? O, never, daddy, never! I'm 
Your pipsey, wipsey, umpsey, ownty own! 

Pel. [Resolutely] Wait here. I'll send him by. 

Pha. But, father, why 

Pel. Nay, that's my secret. Not for little birds. 

[Exit upper left. Phania waits until he disappears, then 
turns flying, and vanishes lower right. Archippe and 
Sachinessa enter, middle left] 

Sac. Blest be Athene, there's nobody here ! 
The house is overrun, and Pelagon 
Has twenty shadows, one at every door. 
Out, in, — in, out, — with ears like aprons held 
For every whisper! Here we're safe to talk. 

Arc. O, dearest Sachinessa, what's to do? 

Sac. We'll go to Philon. If he says confess 



126 ASONOFHERMES 

Arc. Confess? I'll never do it! I will take 
What way he will but that, though 't be the one 
Leads out of life. You do not know my lord! 

Sac. Your Stesilaus is no god, Archippe. 
I'll tell you that. 

Arc. If it should come to him 

We never changed our daughters! If he learns 
That twenty years I've made him wear the hood, 
His roof no more would shade me. Nay! Confess? 
Oh, Sachinessa, I should lose him quite! 

Sac. That could be borne, I think. 

Arc. But lose my Pyrrha? 

Be driven out from her? See her no more? 

Sac. There, friend, you stir me. Such a piece of man! 
To strike like that because a woman's wit 
Has clipped his own ! He's not suspected you 
In all these years? 

Arc. Not once. I've watched myself 
As I were my own jailer, fenced my heart, 
And made my love a thief that gave my child 
No open looks, but by her bed at night 
Stole comfort as she slept. 

Sac. Not I, Archippe! 

I've laughed above the snores of Pelagon, 
Knowing my darling near, whom he thought far 
As Sparta. Come! You're taller by a head 
Than I, yet die with quaking. And I thought 
Each Lacedsemon wife a lioness. 

Arc. Ah, but their lords are lions. 

Sac. Well, they've mane 

Enough, but they'd not shake it in my face. 

Arc. Will you confess? 

Sac. Why, no. For Pelagon 

Would play the spousal saint, sit on the clouds, 
And with a piety intolerable 



ASONOFHERMES 127 

Forgive his perjured wife. What soul could bear it? 
But I'll not part with Phania, know you that! 

Arc. What then? 

Sac. We'll go to Philon. How to keep 

Our secret and our daughters, — that's a nut 
To break the oracle's teeth. 

Arc. If 't can be done! 

Sac. It must be done, Archippe. Come, — I hear 
A chatter. This way out. 

[They leave, upper right. Blades, Pyrrha, Syharis, and 
Phania enter lower right] 

Pha. \Miat of our garden, 

Now all is seen? 

Pyrr. Here gods should live, not men. 

At every turn I seemed to lose the step 
Of a departing deity. 

Syb. We are content 

With our Athenian lords, and seek no charm 
To turn them into gods. 

Bia. [Showing a locket] I've here a charm 
Does more than that. This jewel webbed 
In mystic rings — and set 

Syb. The Persian gem! 

You promised me 

Bia. It is a magic stone, 
That gazed upon by a true-minded maid 



Pha. [Securing the trinket] I'll see it, sir! 

I've heard you vow your bride 
Should wear this locket. 

Bia. [To Phania] So she shall. 

[To Sybaris] None else! 
[To Pyrrha] 
You hear my oath. Come, Sybaris, sit here 
And, Phania, — come! You both shall peep at fate 



128 ASONOFHERMES 

Through a ruby portal, if your hearts be true. 
Now fix your look 

Pha. We'll see the same! 

Bia. Not so. 

Each fortune's connate with the gazer's star, 
And tinted as she dreams. Direct your eyes 
With flawless constancy, or you'll see naught. 

Pha. Not lift them once? 

Bia. Nay, fasten every thought 

Deep in the jewel's fire, till I have said 
The Persian chant of welcome to the spirit 
Whose magic you shall see. 

Pha. A spirit? Oh! 

Bia. But she is fair, — framed as divinity 
For adoration. 

Syb. She! 

Bia. Lift not your eyes. 

[Stands behind Phania and Sybaris and makes the incan- 
tation an ardent address to Pyrrha] 

Spirit of Fate, what mystical wooing 
May win thee to pause where we pray? 

Misers of Dream their locks are undoing, — 
Mistress of Keys, wilt thou stay? 

Priestess, thyself, O fairer than dreaming, 

Art deity's answer to prayer! 
Dusk in thine eyes is the seer-burthen gleaming. 

And moon-wands at rest in thy hair. 

Far-foot Desire is lost in the winding 

Of valleys and gardens of thee! 
Hoop of white arms is circumferent binding 
The star-pastured world and me! 
[Sybaris throws the locket at his feet. He turns and sees 
that she and Phania have risen and are staring at him] 



ASONOFHERMES 129 

Pyrr. [After a silence] I do not know this game. Will 

leave you to it. [Exit, middle left] 
Syb. And I'll go home! [Exit, lower left] 
Pha. And I'll go tell my father! 

[Exit, upper left] 
Bia. And I'll go stand in th' donkey mart and bray 
Till a farmer buys me! Witched, and by a Spartan! 
Mad as the fleeing ass of Thessaly ! [Exit, upper right] 

[Curtain] 



ACT II 

Scene : The same as first act, a few minutes later. Phania 
is discovered in rear. Stesilaus walks frozenly back and 
forth, front, while she timidly advances and retreats] 

Pha. [Approaching] I'm Phania, sir. 

Ste. [Looks at her incredulously, then walks left, leaving 
her centre] My blood and bone in that! 
What dwarf -dish has she fed on? Ugh! 

Pha. [Crossing] I've come 

To walk with you. You like our garden, sir? 
We've bulbuls in it, — and wee, visiting wings 
From the unknown south. Can see them if you watch 
A place I know. They dart like breathing bits 
Of chrysoprase and sard o' the sun. 

Ste. Humph ! You 

Are Phania? 

Pha. [Braver] Troth, I am! Wilt see a nest — 
So small as — that! Could put it on your thumb. 

[Takes his hand] 
I'll show you, sir. Don't you love little things? 
They wiggle to the heart, my daddy says. 
You love my daddy, don't you? 

Sle. Ugh! Your— Ugh! 

Pha. [Defensive] I love him, — yes, and all his friends. 
I do, 
Though they're — so tall. I come just to your beard. 
See now! [Leans against him] 

Ste. Get off! You squeaking pewit! Ugh! 

Pha. [Quiveringly] Have I displeased you, sir? 

130 



A SON OF HERMES 131 

Ste. Displeased me? No. 

You make contentment creep on honored bones 
Far back as Lacedsemon's earliest grave 
That opened for my house. You turn my blood 
That's not yet earthed, and hot as Sparta's pride, 
To drops that mutiny 'gainst their own succession 
And beg to be the end. Displeased? Oh, no! 

[Ret i res y rear] 

Pha. Oh, sir 

[Fails, and goes off iveeping, lower right. Enter, upper 
right, Biades and Creon] 

Cre. But this confusion, many-throated, 
Has single voice and warns articulate. 
A treasonous tempest rises, and you stand 
A god indifferent when you should bethink 
Yourself most mortal. Vilest mouths puff bold 
In Sinon's service. You must wax your way 
To th' Council 

Bia. Nay, no bending there! 

Cre. But 

Bia. Peace! 

Here's Stesilaus! He's most hea\'y shipped. 
What is aboard? And now comes Pelagon, 
With 's threshing-tongue a-ready. Chaff will fly. 
[Enter Pelagon, upper left] 

Pel. What thinkst of Phania? Is she not a chick? 

Ste. You've tricked me, Pelagon ! W' hat f ubbery 
Have you put on me? 

Pel. Sir? Now, now! Why, friend! 

Ste. That's not my daughter! 

Bia. [Drawing Creon bacJi] Whist! 

Ste. I'll see my own! 

My Phania! Not that bib, — that mewling piece, 
With th' milk still in her mouth ! 



132 ASONOFHERMES 

Pel. Speak so of her? 

A bud in th' dew ! A cherry next its leaf ! 
A pippin on the hmb! 

Ste. Not mine, I say! 

Pel. If you repent you did beget her, sir, 
I'll be your shift and own the curtained deed 
Tore man and Heaven. 

Ste. That my child? 

Pel. Yours, friend. 

Ste. Would she had never left Archippe's lap 
For Sachinessa's ! Patience, cool my tongue! 
But I've done better by your Pyrrha ! 

Pel. Soft, 

Beseech you, Stesilaus! Here's no place 
For trumpeting our secret. And brief time 
Forbids it present voice. The hour is on 
To hear the people's answer. Come, my lord. 
Your comrades go before you. We're past late. 

Ste, Friend Pelagon, though courtesy be pressed 
To th' kibe, I'll urge you keep at home. 'Tis best 
You be not seen in this. The lords, who know 
You lean to Sparta, — and for that all thanks, — 
Are pricked therewith to oppose us, when they else 
Might voice us favor. 

Pel. Ay, they know me, friend. 

My eye sets them at guard. They feel it, sir! 
Puts them on screw. Well, so, — I'll stay behind. 
But let me set you forth. [Exeunt, upper right] 

Bia. Is 't trick, or truth? 

Cre. Touch me ! A needle's point 

Could find no spot amazement hath not taken ! 

Bia. Didst hear it Creon? Pyrrha an Athenian! 
O, words of miracle, if ye be true, — 
Friend, friend, I'm in a whirl upon a way 



A SON OF HERMES 133 

To use this strange unearthment for the good 
Of Athens. You'll be silent, Creon? 

Cre. Nay, . 

I think 

Bia. And now I've lost fair Phania! 

Cre. Lost? 

Bia. With Mars i* the dusk of this debated time, 
The Athenian general may not wive himself 
With Sparta. 

Cre. True! 

Bia. I might give up command, 

And be no more my country's armored watch 

Nay, Attica is first! That's sworn. I'll plunge 
The sacrificial knife deep as my love. 
And now 'tis done. Ah, Creon, tend thee well 
My gentle loss. 

Cre. This sets thee o'er thyself! 
O noblest bounty that in grace compeers 
With emulous Heaven! What in me can pay 

Bia. No more of 't now. But what a secret this! 
If 't solely were my own — 

Cre. It is, my lord! 

'Tis yours. I have no speech, no tongue for 't! 

Bia. Thanks, 

My Creon, thanks! And will you go once more 
To th' street, where now it seems I have some need 
Of loyal ears? 

Cre. I serve you, Biades. [Exit^ upper right] 

Bia. Fast hooked, and feels no barb. If he'll lie dark 

Till I would stir the waters Is it truth? 

Pyrrha! Athenian born and Spartan bred! 
By Mars and Eros! Here's a captain's bride! 
There's flutter in me like a forest shook 
With waking birds ! 

[Re-enter Phania^ still weeping] 



134 ASONOFHERMES 

Bia. Why, Phania! Such a shower. 
My kitkin! 

Pha. Stesilaus sh-shook me so! 
Called me a sque-e-aking pewit ! 

Bia. Ha! He did? 

Well, listen to me, Phania. Come, look up. 

[Lifts her chin] 
A maid with little eyes should never w^eep. 
Leave that to Juno orbs. They swim in sorrow 
Like full moons in a lake, but beads like yours 
Are only bright when dry. Shun grief as you 
Shun mud. [Exit, middle left] 

Pha. [Gasping] Why — Blades — he's gone! 

He said 

Oh, oh! If I could die 



[Sobs with abandon. Enter Alcanor, upper left. He 
pauses before her. She looks up bewildered] 

Ale. Ah, gentle star. 

What shrouds thee in this rain.'^ Yet thou'rt not hid. 
Thy beauty shining on these clouds of pearl 
Makes every drop that dies reflecting thee 
A little, falling sun. 

Pha. Oh, Blades said 

He said — he said 

Ale. If what he said so troubles. 

Let me unsay it with a kiss that makes 
Trouble forgot and dumb. [Kisses her] 

Pha. [On his bosom] I'm not — I'm not — 
Not ugly, sir.^ 

Ale. O, dove of Aphrodite! 

Earth stores her beauty in this single face, 
That she may show one jewel to the skies 
When gods boast they have all! 

[Phania purrs comfortedly, then releases herself] 



A SON OF HERMES 135 

Pha. How dare you, sir, 

Attack me? Who are you? 

Ale. I do not know. 

Pha. Not know? 

Ale. Nothing of self or where I am. 

It may be those are trees on giant guard, 
And these bright peeping things are flowers' eyes, 
And this is happy grass we stand upon. 
And that blue watcher is the faithful sky, 
But I know naught except my soul is yours, 
O, maid-magician, in whose snare I lie 
Kissing the net that binds me ! [Kissing her fallen curls] 

Pha. But you know 

Your name! 

Ale. Not in this world a minute old 
That now I find me in, but in time past 
I was Alcanor, Stesilaus* son. 

Pha. O ! — then — why — all is well ! You're noble, sir ! 
My father will approve you. 

Ale. Hast a father? 

And art not magic-born? Then I perceive 
I must go back and find my earthly wits. 

Pha. Nay, he is Pelagon, your father's friend. 

Ale. You're Phania, then! 

Pha. [Giving her hand] I am. 

Ale. No more than this? 

No kiss? 

Pha. [Very shy] You've had it, sir. 

Ale. A phantom one! 

'Twas in a dream, as two ghost-lovers meet 
On an Elysian path. Too cold for earth! 

Pha. [Touching her eheek] Nay, it is warm here yet. 

[He takes her in his arms, and they withdraw lower right. 
Pelagon enters, upper right, in time to witness the em- 
brace] 



136 ASONOFHERMES 

Pel. [Rousing from his horror] Her brother! Gods! 
Whip me all hagglers! We have stood so long 
At door of our confession that this shame 
Gets by us. Phania and Alcanor! Oh! 
No shuffling now! When Stesilaus comes, 
The tale must out! 

[Enter Pyrrha, middle left. She crosses, passing Pelagon, 
who retreats rear, unseen by her. She loiters right] 

Pel. Here's opportunity 
At beck. I'll follow. [Advances] Ahem ! My daughter, 

Pyrr. Sir? 

You seek your daughter? I will look this way. 

[Goes farther right] 

Pel. I must advance, and take her Spartan guard 
With gentleness. My love, 'tis you I seek. 

Pyrr. [Stiffly] You'd speak to me? 

Pel. My little Pyrrha, 

Pyrr. Little! 

Pel. I think of Phania. In my heart you both 
Hold undivided place. Shall we not chat a bit, 
My Pyrrha? 

Pyrr. Kitchen maids do that, not men 
Of State. 

Pel. Nay, there's a time when one may cast 
The civic garment and take household ease 
In modest robe. 

Pyrr. [Aside] A swaddling band would fit him! 

Pel. You will not hear me? 

Pyrr. I wait upon you, sir. 

For if your hostship I forget, and leave 
The fees of grace unpaid, I yet must know 
You are my father's friend. Say what you will, 
My lord. 

Pel. That word undears me! Let your tongue 
Breach colder custom and give me a name 



A SON OF HERMES 137 

That brings me near in love as Stesilaus, 
Wilt call me father, Pyrrlia? 

Pyrr. [Retreating] You, my lord? 

Pel. They've frozen her, poor child! Must blow more 
warm. 
Indeed a father. Call me what I am, 
For so I love you, Pyrrha. 

Pyrr. Is it thus 

The Athens sages talk? 

Pel. Ay, we're not cut 
Of ice as Spartans are. Here your poor heart 
Shall know what sun is, and the Springs you've lost, 
Betrayed without a bloom in frigid Sparta, 
In Athens shall blow fair. You are amazed, 
My sweet, but by this kiss 

Pyrr. [Giving him a blow] You goose-eyed goat! 
I strike not at your years. Lord Pelagon, 
But at your mind which has not come of age 
And gives me elder right. 

[Exit, middle left. While Pelagon is recovering^ enter 
Stesilaus, upper right] 

Pel. [Welcoming the interruption] You, Stesilaus? 
So soon, friend, from the Assembly? 

Ste. Late, sir, late! 

More haste had been more prudence. 

Pel. Why, why, why! 

Ste. Where is your buttery nephew, Biades? 
Who slips to the seat of question and melts all 
Into one potch of folly! 

Pel. But I'd know 

Ste. Why I am here, not there? A crater mouth 
That calls itself a people hissed eruption 
Into my face, and without bow I set 
My back to 't, sir! 



138 ASONOFHERMES 

Pel. Blame me for all! I knew 
I should not stay behind ! The gods do know 
I am the voice of Athens. 'Tis no pride 
That speaks bare truth. I'll go 

Ste. Tuh, tub! 

A word with Biades 

Pel. But not too sharp, 
My friend. He is of weight 

Ste. No sharper than 

My stick! Then I set out for Sparta, where 
The very ground knows Stesilaus walks! 

Pel. And Phania goes with you? 

Ste. Not if the chit 

May corner in your kitchen! She's worth that. 

Pel. You'll leave her here? 

Ste. It will content me. I'll 

Surrender both. 

Pel. What? Both! Nay, your free heart 
Shall not outdo my own. 

Ste. You'll give me Pyrrha? 

Pel. Friend of my soul, I will! 

Ste. [Moved] Thanks, Pelagon. 

She's dearer than my son. More like my blood. 
Alcanor is too soft and woman-lipped. 
Too much Archippe in him from his birth, 
Nor blows could drive it out. 

Pel. And mine own eyes 

Have seen a cooing match between himself 
And Phania. 

Ste. Zeus! His sister! 

Pel. While we speak, 
The fated pair are yonder 

Ste. I'll get him home! 

And leave the witch to you ! Had I a doubt 



A SON OF HERMES 139 

To hold me back, this turn would be 
Decision's point. She must stay here. 

Pel. But how 

Make answer to our wives? Our wisdom's nicked 
Where it is tenderest if we confess. 

Ste. What's to confess? I know my will and do it. 

Pel. Ay, ay, you bear your wife in a sack, but mine 
Is on her feet and goes her pace. Look yon ! 
They come together! A brace, and one of them 
Would tie my tongue. 

Ste. Tie water in a brook! 

[Archippe and Sachinessa enter tipper right] 

Sac. We do not come to shame you, noble lords 
And husbands, though we've that to bear which put 
To honest ballad would uncrest your pride 
And clip a reef or two from the tall sail 
Of dignity. 

*S^^. Why, madam, this approach? 

Sac. I walk, sir, in my garden when I please. 

Arc. We have a suit, my honored lords, which you 
May think full strange, remembering our prayers 
Of twenty years ago. 

Ste. What suit canst have? 

If you must try the goose-step out of doors. 
Go thank the gods for suiting you with me, 
Who save you from all suit by hearing none. 

Sac. Not hear us, sir? I'll catch you by the ears 
And shake the pride-wool out, but you shall hear! 
Suited with you ! And then go thank the gods ! 

Pel. Why, Sachinessa, love! What you, duck? 

Sac. This, Pelagon. When in that sad year gone 
You took my child from me 

Pel. What? That again? 

Sac. Not that, but this. I did not stay you then, 
Being young in wedlock and my wit at cheep 



140 ASONOFHERMES 

In its first feathers. But this second time 
When you Hft up your hand to cut the bough 
Whose root is in my heart, I'll speak so loud 
That if your dull ear miss, I'll reach you yet 
By way o' the stars that will cry back my wrong 
When they so hear it. 

Pel. You would beg for Phania? 

Sac. I would. There is no source of love so great 
As brooding care. That makes the mother, not 
The childing pangs. Though she, from the first hour, 
Will cherish what she must so dearly buy, 
'Tis day by watchful day her swelling love 
Is born. So I, as new days past, forgot 
The child of my brief pain, and gave to one 
That nestled in her place my care-born love. 
Now you would strike again 

Pel. Sweet, by my soul, — 

Nay, Sachinessa, dearest heart, be calm. 
Your words have never in our mated life 
Moved me as now. If Stesilaus yields. 
And his stern will be broken by your plea, 
I am content. 

Ste. I'm so far moved, my friend. 
That I will hear Archippe speak her wish. 
Her love for Pyrrha will not match with that 
Your wife bestows on Phania. 

Arc. Ay, my lord, 

I've never loved the stranger as my own, 
But she is dearer than my own grown strange. 
I see in Phania all my tender loss. 
But it is lost forever. Give me, Pyrrha. 
I have no other daughter. 

Ste. Keep her, dame. 

But make this weakness not your heckling ground 
Where you would spar for favors. No more suits! 



ASONOFHERMES 141 

Pel. And, Sachinessa, hear the same from me. 

Sac. You borrow feathers and I'll twitch 'em out! 

Ste. [To Archippe] Lest you should badger, footed safe 
on this. 
Know that my judgment's not earwigged by you 
To this repeal, but now configures pat 
To the act itself, that keeps a constant step 
With our first purpose. Our intent comes out 
With even edges, though reversed in face. 
An Athens' maid shall be a Spartan mother, 
And here shall dwell a dame of Spartan blood. 

Pel. You hear it, Sachinessa. I'm not one 
To throw my pack away in sight of home. 
Come mud, come mire, I bear my judgment out, 
As Athens knows. 

Sac. I'll swear to it there's no man 

I' the city better hides the sun with a sieve ! 

Ste. And secondly, my dame, know that I've won 
My high contention that the laws of Sparta 
Are best for breeding earth a godlike race. 
For here my proof enroots in warmest life 
That they can aggrandize the chalky veins 
Of pampered Attica to ducts that bear 
The red, unconquered sap of Lacedsemon. 

Sac. So Pyrrha is your proof! 

Ste. No question there. 
A weak, Athenian babe grows up the pride 
Of Sparta, while a budling of her own, 
Nursled by Athens' soft and careless shift, 
Scarce grows to woman's level 

Sac. Why, you puffed 

You pride-blown 

Arc. Come with me! 

Sac. But such a bladder! 

He'd top a flood into the second world 
And wet but half his skin ! 



142 A SON OF HERMES 

Arc. Nay, Sachinessa, 

Our suit is won. No words! We'll haste once more 
To Philon's shrine. For this dear joy I'll bend 
A willing knee. Come, come ! 

[Draws her away, upper right] 

Pel. [Capering] Could reel it now 
Like school-boy 'scaped a whipping! 

>S/^. Shame! Your years 

Will blush. [Goes left] Now Blades, and then farewell ! 

Pel. Ah, there's my mourning cloak! I'll go at once 
To th' Council, and 

Ste. Vain labor, Pelagon. 

Pel. Nay, I will stir them! 

[Exity upper right. Biades enters left. He is arrayed in 
a purple gown with long train held up by his monkey. 
A peacock fan swings from a girdle, and jewels dangle 
from his ears. He carries a scroll from which he reads 
as he walks, tittering over the matter. Stesilaus watches 
him curiously, then amazedly recognizes him] 

Ste. Biades! Is 't he? 

May eyes report it to a brain unshaken? 
.... Ho, sir, — or madam? 

Bia. Did you speak, my lord? 

Your pardon ! I was buried here, — quite drowned 
I' the honey of this tale. Sir, it suggests, — 
But that's not it, — the style, so quaint, so pure, — 
It plays with thoughts and leaves them bright as shells 
The sea has polished to their curling edges. 
You'll hear this line? 'Tis worth a pause. Eh, not? 
You've never wooed the script? Ah, I forget. 
War is the art of Sparta. 

Ste. Are you man? 

Bia. What's that to an artist, sir? Life in me packs 
The germinal grain of all, and what may come 
To birth and bloom, I leave to nursing Fate. 
But you seem ruffled, — warm. Pray have my fan. 



ASONOFHERMES 143 

Then take my parchment, — sit you in this nook 
And read of Corys and his water-nymph 
Until the charm of an unhurrying world 
Steals wave-like round you. 

Ste. Olympus ! Was 't this voice 
That tripped my reason? Led my cautious years 
To take instruction from a dizzened ape 
And lose the cause they guarded? Was 't myself 
So slubbered judgment 

Bia. Ah, must I believe 

You honored my good counsel? 

Ste. Good! 

Bia. 'Twas good 

For Athens. Ha, you slipped into the noose 
As easily as my finger takes this ring. 
A wondrous sapphire here. You know the stone? 
This is from Egypt, — has the desert fire 
'Neath Nilus' liquid smile. Is 't not a treasure? 
But I forget. Your Sparta has no gems. 
By Hera's belt, your country goes too bare 
For this adorned earth! 

Ste. Come, Biades! 

Throw off that gown, and with a captain's sword 
Deny this folly! 

Bia. Friend, 'tis not my hour 

For exercise. Our moods, I see, would quarrel. 
But here's my thornless world. You'll pardon me. 

[Resumes walking and reading as before. Pyrrha enters, 
middle left, and stands watching him. He looks up and 
is struck motionless to find her eyes upon him. She 
comes nearer for a detached scrutiny, then crosses right] 

Ste. Find me Alcanor, daughter. And this hour 
We leave for Sparta. 

Pyrr. I am ready, sir. 

[Exit, loicer right. Stesilaus goes into house, upper left] 



144 ASONOFHERMES 

Bia. She has good eyes, and used them. Overshot, 
By Hermes! I must follow, — 'twixt this fool 
And meditation's eye must interpose 
My soldier self! 

[Tears off robe, under which he wears a simple, belted 
tunic, flings jewels from his ears, and drives out Bico. 
Goes off, lower right. Enter Pelagon, much ruffled, 
from street] 
Pel. Where's Stesilaus? Stesilaus, ho! 
Find Stesilaus! 

[Stesilaus returns, upper left] 
O, my friend, they're mad, 
And you must fly! I never was so battered! 
The senators cry out you played with them 
As though their stationed honors were a row 
Of last year's weanlings, — first to say you bore 
Full power to treat, then at their open answer 
To cover and prefer the opposite. 
Declaring that their noble terms must cool 
On th' road to Sparta! As I speak your comrades 
Are driven through the gates. You must not stay. 
They'll have your life, they are so worked. Come, 



come 



I know a way — I'll get you through 

Ste. I'll go 

The way I came. 

Pel. Nay, nay, I'll slip you out! 

Leave here your wife and daughter. In gentler hour 
I'll send them after, with your son, — 

Ste. I'll speak 

To Pyrrha 

Pel. No! This way! The world's at somersault! 
The turtle's on his back, his claws to Heaven! 
No one would hear me ! Me ! The voice of Athens ! 
And jeered me down, for I was Blades' kin, — 



ASONOFHERMES 145 

Though why the wind sits so I know not ! 
Come — come — I was so battered 

[Exeunt, upper left. Pyrrha and Blades enter, lower right] 

Bia. But one word! 

Pyrr. I've let you showier words in hope to drain 
Your breath of them, but they grow to a hail. 
Pelt me no more, Athenian. 

Bia. O, that name 

I held my pearl of honor is become 
A wounding thorn! I'll wear 't no more. 

Pyrr. You'll be 

A Spartan? 

Bia. Ay, if you are one! 

Pyrr. So vows 

An Athens' captain. 

Bia. Nay, I have no place, 

No rank, no office, duty or pursuit. 
But this my gage is in. Nor rest till I have won! 

Pyrr. Then you'll die weary, sir. So long 'twill take 
To make me yours. 

Bia. If you will love my shade 

I'll on the instant make myself a ghost! 

Pyrr. Love's burning deeds do ever lie before him. 
He ne'er gets past to make them history. 

Bia. O, hear my oath! Thy birthland shall be mine! 

Pyrr. Whist, Biades ! The gods might hear you too. 

Bia. I'll swear it in the ears of Zeus! 

Pyrr. By what 

Irreverenced deity wilt break it? 

Bia. Ah, 

By none, fair Pyrrha! I'll stake my golden part 
In love's eternity, no land's more dear 
To my own heart than that which gave you birth. 

Pyrr. Ay, for on Spartan soil the laurel grows 



146 ASONOFHERMES 

Which you would pluck from drenched defeat and set 
Among your bays. So dear as that! 

[A clamor is heard in street] 

Bia. I'll woo 

In better time. Till then let this pure gem 
Speak for me on your breast. 'Tis like my love, 
No sudden thing. For as this captive fire 
Dreamed in the heart of earth and could not wake 
Till beauty born in man sent down his kiss, 
So lay my love in Life from her first breath, 
Deep as unconsciousness, till at your step 
It knew itself. You scorn the half-hour flame, 
But in your coming like an instant dawn 
Find all its brevity. Ay, Pyrrha, sweet! 
And let my token lie, a patient prayer. 
Upon your bosom. Heaven should have its sun! 

[Drops the locket into the folds of her dress. She casts it 
to the ground] 

Pyrr. Athens is such a sun, and Sparta as my foot 
Shall overcloud it! [Exit, middle left] 

Bia. Had she crushed my gem 

To bleeding dust, I'd pay it o'er to see 
Such flame unsheathe. Bright Eos necklaced with 
A darkling east could not more beauteously 
Threat earth with storm. [Takes up the locket] 

You'll wear it yet, my terror. 
Or I'll cut out the tongue that can aot wag 
To a woman's heart. 

[Enter Creon from street] 
What, Creon? Dumb with news? 
Which I will guess before your tongue's uncrimped. 
We've lost our gentle guests? Our Spartan friends 
Are off? 

Cre. They're driven out. But that is old. 
Atop that tale, like mountain on a hump. 
Comes one will wake you, sir! The tumbling streams 



ASONOFHERMES 147 

That bore the Spartans out, rage back again, 
A gathered flood against you, — you, my lord ! 

Bia. Ah! 

Cre. Sinon's poison spreads till men 

That yesterday lay down before you, now 
Cry for your death. I warned you, friend! 

Bia. You did. 

Be happy then. Your duty's done. 

Cre. Oh, sir, 

Your house is sacked, and all your golden plate. 
Parcelled on robber backs, is carried out 
And spots the city with a hundred suns! 

Bia. There's more i' the world. Let that not trouble 
you. 

Cre. Your robes are in the street, and carters' wheels 
Grow royal with them! 

Bia. Well, there yet are looms. 

While weavers know their art this is no loss. 

Cre. Your pictures 

Bia. What? If they've one finger laid 
On those immortal treasures 

Cre. All are riddled! 

Bia. All, Creon? Not my Zeuxis? No! The stones 
Hurled at it w^ould have paused as though a god 
Were hidden there! 

Cre. All, friend. 

Bia. Ay, these are tears. 

But I will chide them and think on my sword. 
Now I must bend me to the senators, — 
Get leave to call my troops, — 

[Enter a body of senators, Amentor at their head] 
Most noble lords, 
I was about to seek you. 

Amen. Shifts your mood, 

Proud Blades? The answer's not yet cold 



148 ASONOFHERMES 

That came so hot from you, — a two-edged shame 
That struck into your honor as our own! 

Bia. Nay, gentle senators, Athenian fathers! 
That you could note so low, so foul a charge 
As secret Sinon brought against my name, 
Gave me the block, the bellows, and the fire 
Wherewith I forged my answer, — one that kept 
My honor whole, and if your own needs surgery, 
Lay 't not to me, but let good sense mend all, 
And give me leave to go against this mob 
Now scarring Athens' beauty. 

Amen. Go alone. 

Bia. I have an army. 

Amen. Ask Lord Sinon that. 

Bia. When fishes drown! 

Amen. Put out your single arm. 

And feel your army in it. Athens' troops 
Are now in Sinon's charge. You are no more 
Her general. You are banished. 

Bia. Is this so? 

Senators. It is. 

Bia. Then I am dumb. Words on your heat 

Would fall as snow, — and I am not a man 
To let my scars speak, though my body bears 
Enough to cry you shame. 

Amen. We know your valor, 

But with it goes a pride no State could bear 
But that it must. Make your escape, my lord. 
The people pressed us, and we save your life 
By this decree. 

Bia. O, Athens that did love me! 

Amen. And now repents that love, for know you, sir, 
Though men may be irreverent as they choose, 
They'll follow only who revere their gods. 

[Exeunt senators] 



ASONOFHERMES 149 

Cre. But you were meek! 

Bia. If I had let them know 

I've yet a tongue, they might have had that too, 
And in the courts where I must sue for love 
'Twill be my royal member, — all my suite 
And kingly plenitude. 

Ore. They will repent. 

Bia. On knees, sir ! Banished ! O, my heart could lend 
Hot Sirius fire! 

Cre. You ! Banished ! 

Bia. Nay, while sense 

From wit and speech are undivorced, and courage 
Knits them in purpose drinking up the seas 
That distance me from Athens, who shall say 
I'm banished.'^ Bribe mankind and nature too. 
Ye bleary senators ! Suborn the winds ! 
Put me at end of farthest watery leagues! 
While there's no rift between me and my gods, 
I'll shake this night as from Apollo's brow 
And show my day emergent! 

Cre. Where wilt go? 

Bia. To Persia first, where I am dear to Phernes. 
And then, perchance, with Persia at my back, 
Sparta may find me fair, though now I'm black 
As Pluto's poker. We'll not flag, my heart. 
Till every fleet o' the world rides here and makes 
This saucy harbor tremble ! What an ague then 
Shall shake thee, Athens, thinking on this hour! 

[Curtain] 



ACT III 

Scene: The assembly ground of the Spartans. Maidens 
discovered. A dance is ending. 

Nac. We limped through that. Apollo! Are there 
thorns 
I' the grass? We'll better it. Come! 

Dia. No time. I hear 

The senators. 

Nac. They wait beyond the bridge 
For old Aristogeiton. Come, my maids! 
You, Dianessa need to school your toes. 
'Twas you played wild-foot — twice ! 

Art. Save her a slip 

When Agis' eye is on her! 

Nac. Faith, she'd be 

No bride this year! 

Dia. What ache for that.'^ His love 

Is slight if 't hangs upon my toes. 

Nac. My troth! 

Less might catch more ! 

Dia. You, Nacia, are not so lithe 

As a ferret in a hoop. An Athens maid 
Might labor so in all her skirts. 

Nac. Ho, ho! 

A little puff blow such a fire.'^ The coals 
Were hot then! 

Myr. Nay, my girls, we'll douse you both 

I' the river yonder if you flame at naught. 

150 



A SON OF HERMES 151 

How, Dianessa, dance the maids of Athens? 
But surely not in skirts! 

Dia. My father saw them, 

And so he said. 

Myr. Why dance at all then? Grace 

That cadent girdles the invisible waves 
Of flute and harp is born of faining limbs. 
And hide them who may see it? 

The. No doubt they bob 

Like bears in blankets, and believe they dance. 

Nac. Pyrrha could say. But since she came from 
Athens 
Who hears her speak? 

Art. She keeps from all our games, 

And scorns the wrestle, though our noblest youths 
Have sent her challenge. 

The. Ay! Lets Dianessa wear 

The vestal bays, nor cares if Hieron 
Be there to see. 

Myr. Come, Pyrrha, tell us how 

The Athenian maidens dance with shrouded feet. 

Pyrr. They wear their robes as Morning does the mist 
That makes her beauty greater and her dream 
Live on in men. 

Dia. Ah, maidens, here's a tale 

For the other ear. 

Pyrr. The bare and brazen sun 

That's up without a cloud, cheers to the hunt, 
The fight, the bruited path, — makes careful dames 
Send linen to the ford, and say "Zeus grant, 
We'll air the beds!" 

Nac. Ay, wives must know their season. 

Pyrr. But let night-swimming Morn come up 
In foamy veil, and her priest-hearted rose 



152 ASONOFHERMES 

Stays lusty feet and gives adventure's hour 
To the achieving soul. 

Art. What kin is this 

To th' matter? 

Pyrr. Why, Artante, when we dance 

Half naked as we do before the youths, 
They say of us **A bed-mate there, and strong 
To bear and breed brave warriors for my house." 
But they in Athens who so watch the dance, 
See sheatheless Being shine through form that would, 
Not softened thus, first fill the ruder eye 
And leave unseen the token of a grace 
Earth may not shadow. 

Dia. Nay, you speak Athenian ! 

Let's have it in our tongue. 

Nac. What grace can be 

So badgered in a gown? 

Pyrr. Ask flying doves. 

That rhythm the air till it doth ache with loss 
When they have passed. So have these maidens taught 
The silken fold to be their winged part. 

Myr. Ask her no more. Alack, our Pyrrha drank 
Of charmed Ilissus, — must go back to Athens! 

Nac. But come! Our dance! We yet are Spartan 
maids. 

Dia. [Taking wreath from her hair] Our flowers are far 
from morning. See, these buds 
Are pale as they had never known the dew. 
But I know where some fleecy clusters blow 
And daintily edge the stream. Like tiny birds. 
Green-necked and lily-winged, they are alight 
A hundred to a stem. I'll have a wreath 
Of them. 

Myr. And I. These sad things are less bright 
Than locks they should adorn. 



A SON OF HERMES 153 

Art. New garlands, all! 

Where grow these favors? Dianessa, lead! 

[They go off, rear left. Pyrrha waits a meditative mo- 
ment, then turns to follow. A bough brushes her cheek. 
She puts up her hand and plucks a bunch of berries 
from it] 
Pyrr. 'Tis like his ruby. Nature loved them both 
With the same kiss, — the berry and the stone. 

[Fastens cluster to her bosom] 
** Heaven should have its sun." This sun will fade, 
But that I threw away had ne'er lost hue 
So near my heart, giving and taking fire. 

[Something throwti from the bushes falls at her feet. She 
gazes at it, not taking it up] 
Ah! Blades' jewel! W'ho [Looks about guard- 
edly] 
[Biades comes from the woods. He is dressed as a Helot 

in a scant tunic of goatskin, and wears a large cap] 
Pyrr. Whose slave are you, 

Bold Helot? 

Bia. [Kneeling] Thine! [Takes off cap, revealing his 

quantity of dark curls] 
Pyrr. Are you in love with death, 

That you have come to Sparta? 

Bia. Nay, I come 

A banished man. 

Pyrr. I've heard how you were plucked. 
Bia. No feather left. 

Pyrr. Life, sir, is yours, and you 

Cast it away in Lacedsemon. 

Bia. Nay, — 

Pyrr. You whose dark outrage made her honor bleed, 
Think on her burning wound to set the foot 
Of impudence and live? 



154 ASONOFHERMES 

Bia. I know the Spartans. 

They will exalt my courage above death. 

Pyrr. Courage that reckons so bates its own worth 
Till a coward might disport it. You will meet 
Death's mercy but no other. 

Bia. No, the virtue 

Dearest in them they'll hold dear in myself. 
But if not so, — blow out your candle, Fate, 
I'll go to bed. 

Pyrr. Why not have fled to Persia? 
She's softer mannered, — has no aching pride 
Your death would poultice. 

Bia. Pyrrha lives in Sparta. 

Howe'er I set my feet, love turned them here. 
Which way I bent some tinged thought of thee 
Crept as a secret sun to every sense 
And made the hidden threads of being blush 
Like coral boughs when Aphrodite's foot 
Is on the wave. 

Pyrr. Athenian, what canst hope 
From Stesilaus' daughter? 

Bia. I ask naught. 

But had a gem of hers that hourly cried 
To clasp its mistress, and to bring it thus. 
With Death a looker-on, I thought might make 
The peasant service shine so sovranly 
That even her royal and offended eyes 
Might gently entertain it. 

Pyrr. Deck the bark 

Of yon shag ilex and 'twill wear your trinket 
With the same grace and thanks. 

Bia. Thy grace is hers 

Who walked unrobed from hands of the high gods 
Grown jealous of the beauty they had made. 
Not this, nor any jewel may adorn it, 



A SON OF HERMES 153 

Though swartest pebbles might grow ruby proud, 
And rubies throb with breath to be so worn. 
And for thy thanks, I have not come this way 
To ask for them. Keep them for one so poor 
He lets his heart for hire. 

[Puts locket slowly under his tunic] 

And yet my ears 
Fed on a sigh when I was hidden there. 

Pyrr, Who is so strong as never to have sighed? 
That secret moment was my weakest too. 
I'm now a Spartan, and my father's name 
Is Stesilaus. You may know it, sir. 
Who wert of Athens, but whose country now 
Is so much ground as you may beg of foes. 
And that, Zeus help, they'll measure without grudge. 
You're not so tall your grave would scant a field, 
Or make a garden less. 

[Sounds of approach across bridge, lower right] 

Bia. Does Fate come noisy -footed? 

I thought she crept, and loved the jungle-leap. 

Pyrr. Hide, sir! I'll be as secret as these shrubs, 
And not reveal you sooner. With the night 
You may steal out of Sparta. 

Bia. I'll go out winged 

With Spartan ships, and honor as a bride 
Shall sail with me! 

Pyrr. Are you so mad? Then die! 

[Enter ephors and senators, all old men, followed by 
warriors, then youths, wives, maidens, children, and 
attendant slaves. Biades draws his cap down and lies 
slouching on the grass. The ephors and senators take 
seats which the Helots have prepared for them] 

First Ephor. What! Must we wait? Where are these 
merry slips? 



156 ASONOFHERMES 

First Senator. The woods are dancing yonder. By that 
sign 
They come. 

[Re-enter Dianessa, Myrta^ and companions, who dance he- 
fore the assembly, the figure symbolizing the capture of 
Persephone. They continue dancing, the youths joining, 
until every maid has won a partner. 
Ste. [To Archippe] Our Pyrrha does not dance. 

Why's that? 
Arc. No why at all. I'll rate her. Sulky chuff! 
Ste. Ay, you'll be on her heels! 
Arc. The younger maids 

Are chosen. She'll be left. There's Hieron 
With eyes like begging moons which way she goes, 
But she draws off, — 

Ste. Well, well! She'll please herself. 

Arc. In Phania, I'd have had a daughter now 

Ste. What, madam? Gabble here? Be done! 
Agis. [Among the young men] I thirst. 

[To Biades] Up, slave! Fill me a cup. Come, 
move, you drone! 
[Biades slowly rises and goes to spring under trees, rear] 
A Young Lord. What Helot's that? 
Another. Some dog o' the farms. A staff 

On 's back might help his legs. 

Another. I'll put mine to 't. 

[Biades lazily returns with cup. In handing it to Agis 

he spills part of the contents] 
Agis. [Emptying the cup in Biades* face] 

By Dis and Rhadamanthus ! Sot! Whose man 
Is this? 

Bia. My own, you Spartan whelp ! 
[Gives Agis a blow, so unexpected that it knocks him down. 
His head strikes the root of a tree and he does not rise. 
A number of Spartans rush upon Biades. Others bear 
Agis off, left] 



ASONOFHERMES 157 

Voices. The dog! 

Tread him to earth ! Down ! down ! 

Bia. [Springing from them and taking off his cap] 
What, Greeks? You'd kill 
A brother? 

A Voice. Biades! 

Bia. My friends 

Voices. Ha, ha! His friends! 

Lys. What friending was 't you gave us on the day 
You drove us out of Athens? Hoot and club 
Then spoke how dear you loved us. We had not 
Brought off our lives if your desire had dared 
Blow full on Athens' heat. 

Gir. Brought off our lives? 

Where's Heracordus? Stoned at Athens' gate. 
And dead upon the road. 

Bia. Nay, brothers 

Gir. Ha! 

If you're a brother, weep beside his grave. 
rU show it you. 

Lys. x\nd all the graves where lie 

The dead we brought two bleeding years ago 
From Decalea's wall, where you gave entry 
Then broke the truce with charge! 

Bia. But hear, my lords 

Gir. Come, w^ail beside them till they wake and ask 
What new calamity brews in your tears! 

[Enter Lenon] 

Len. Agis yet swoons. That root was edged with death. 
We fear he's gone. 

Gir. For this alone, Athenian, 

You should not live, — though all your else-wrought deeds 
Were mercy's pawn for you. 

Bia. Ye fathers, hear! 

If ye know Justice, — and the world has said 



158 ASONOFHERMES 

Her lovers dwell in Sparta, — shall he cry 

To scorn-shut ears, whose injuries taking voice 

Should pass in thunder where your virtues sleep? 

Hear one whose wrongs have bruised him to your 

coast, 
And let it not be said that you from safe 
Unshaken rocks met suppliant hands with spears! 

Ste. Ye noble elders, there's a sort of mercy 
On which dishonor feeds. As pasty, soft 
As butter in the sun, it chokes the sluice 
Of reason, — in marshy obliteration lays 
The marks and bounds of justice, — nauseous spreads 
Till mind is left no throne. Let it not come 
Where sit the guards of honor! 

Bia. I grant you so. 

But what I ask is not thus natured, sir! 
Sages of Lacedsemon, there's a mercy 
That veins the very rock of Justice' seat. 
It is the agent of divinest mould 
In all the world. By it the mind grows fair 
With blossoms deity may gather. 'Tis 
As precious to the soul as south-lipped winds 
To the winter-aching earth. Go bare of it, 
Though ye know Virtue ye wear not her pearl. 
I beg my life that you in saving me 
May save the heavenliest favor given to men, 
Nor crush it out of Sparta, leaving her 
The scarred and barren terror gods forsake. 

Second Ephor. Shall hear his plea? He may have argu- 
ment 
Of worthy note. 

Second Senator. 'Tis not our way to judge 
The dumb. 

Third Ephor. [Very old, creakingly] 
Why, if a lion, boar, or pard, 



A SON OF HERMES 159 

Or any beast, should pause as we did burn 
In chase, and beg us hear his cause, I think 
Our ears would ope. 

Ste. Ay, and the earth too, sir, 

Bearing such wonder on it! Folly's self 
Would be too wise to listen to this man. 
Yet ye would hear him! 

Fourth Ephor. More than would. We will. 

Bia. This clemency shows like yourselves, — the gem 
Of mind's adornment, as ye are the lustre 
Of Sparta's matchless race! 

Ste. Now he is off. 

Will gallop with us to what ditch he choose. 

First Senator. Speak, Biades. 

Bia. Of Agis then, my lords, — 

This newly raw offence, — be my first word. 
And I'll not stay for garnish. Truth is bare. 
And bravest so. Though 'twas my Helot guise 
Drew Agis' insult on me, think you, sirs. 
It fell upon a proud and free-born Greek, 
And who is here that could with putting on 
A slave's vile dress put on his nature too. 
Drain off his ancient, high nobility. 
And in one brutish instant lose the blood 
That made his fathers heroes? Is there one? 

First Ephor. We grant you, none. 

Bia. Your hearts then struck my blow. 

Therefore must pardon it. If Agis' death 
Falls from it, 'tis but accident that sleeps 
In every motion, and in mine awoke 
Untimely. Who, so shorn of wisdom, thinks 
That I, a suitor here for barest life. 
Meant him a vital stroke that would o'ercry 
My prayers and make a mock of suppliance? 
I'll mourn with you, my lords, but ask you wring 



160 ASONOFHERMES 

The neck of Fate, and leave my head where 'tis 
To praise the just of Sparta. 

Third Senator. So we might 

But for the heavier charges that engage 
The sighs of mercy 'gainst you ere they blow 
This deed a pardon. What of Decalea? 

Bia. That was a ruse the Spartans taught me, sir. 
When at Eleusis they ensnared my troops 
Within the gates, and naught passed out again 
Save rivers of their blood. If I must die 
For Decalea, die you with me, men. 
For red Eleusis. 

Fourth Senator. This is justice too. 
I saw Eleusis. He is clear on that. 

Ste. I warn you, senators ! The fleetest wit 
That pauses on his guile is honey-mired 
And ne'er gets farther. 

First Ephor. We'll not keep his road 
An inch past justice, but we'll go so far. 

Ste. So you resolve, but Hecate at his smile 
Would plod beside him like a market lass, 
Forgetting vengeance. 

Bia. Honored Stesilaus: 

Ste. Honored? Ay, Biades! With gibe and jeer 
That shook the walls of Athens ! By my staff, 
I'll 

Bia. Noble fathers, hear me for yourselves, 
Who, loved of Pallas, in this council sit 
Her earthly heirs and nature's demigods! 
This rage of Stesilaus is itself 
Sanction and seal for my adoption here, 
A son of Sparta. 

Ste. Ha! Now he would drive 

The mares of Diomed ! 

Bia. My lords, 



A SON OF HERMES 161 

Ste. Prove this? 

Bia. Why made you Stesilaus head and tongue 
Of envoy unto Athens? For you thought 
His mind, most apt, fluidic, poHtic, 
More quick than danger, would take shape of need, 
Repairing your defense fast as you found 
Your safety cramped. If I o'ercame him then 
With wit that watched with sleepless spear at door 
Of Athens' housed trust, must you not crown in me 
The quality held sovereign in him? 

Ste. You hear, you elders, — must! 

Bia. Ay, must, — and must! 

Or at the fontal spring of justice break 
Your cups and thirst. No alien dripple may 
Content you then. 

First Senator. We listen, Biades. 

Bia. When swords of an uneven temper meet, 
Who scorns the better proved? Nay, you do set 
Your love upon it, — in your armory 
Give it a burnished place. And I who crossed 
With Stesilaus, for my triumph ask 
To be of Sparta's armor. 

*S^^. Our dead shall answer! 

Bia. They shall. For every heart my steel made cold. 
Is proof how well I served my Athens, — proof 
Of loyal heat with which I'll serve the State 
That makes me hers ! A true-bred Greek, outthrust 
And homeless, seeks a foster-land, that he 
May lift for her his sword, nor wasteful let 
The chiefest virtue in him die unused 
While his lost name no more climbs to the gods. 

Second Senator. Would you ally with us 'gainst Attica? 

Bia. I'm yours for that. By th' mother of the sea. 
Her tears shall wash your feet! 

Third Senator. What way wouldst take? 



162 ASONOFHERMES 

Bia. The way to Phernes and the Persian fleet 
Now boastful before Rhodes. Grant me a convoy, 
I'll forge with Persia Laced8emon*s sword, 
And cut the crest from Athens. 

Fourth Senator, We have failed 

With Phernes. 

Bia. You'll not fail again. He's sworn 
My friend. 

First Senator. Our ships are few. 

Bia. But Corinth holds 

Her sea-wings spread for any need of yours. 

Ste. Hear me, ye warriors! He will lead 
Our force afar, then stir up neighbor foes 
To scourge unarmored Sparta! Think that one, 
Cradled in silk and fed on nectared drops 

Bia. There, sir, I'm bold to say you're off the road 
Of truth. My nurse was of your people, brought 
From sterner Sparta for my orphan rearing. 
By my good uncle Pelagon, — a man 
Ye know your friend. From her wise hands I took 
Your doughty-nurturing bread, and broth black-brewed, 
That drives the shade of fear from veins of men. 

Ste. I've bread now in my wallet. Let us see 
Your teeth in 't. 

[Takes out a piece of coarse, stale bread and offers it to 
Biades] 

Bia. Pardon, sir! I do not hunger. 

A Helot shared with me. 

ySte. 'Twill keep till you 

Would sup. But you must try our broth, sir. Pulse 
Is seething yonder. Youths, bring here a bowl. 
We have a guest who'd call his childhood up 
In good black brew. Hark, Lenon! 

[Whispers to Lenon, who goes off left] 



A SON OF HERMES 163 

Third Ephor. It is truth. 

Amycla was your nurse. I know the year 
That she was sent to Athens. 

Bia. On her lap 

I learned a love for Sparta that returned 
In warrior days to blunt my assaulting sword 
And wound me from your side. She taught me too 
The lyric wafture that dead hero-lips 
Send on undying, — songs your young men sing. 
And old men flush to hear, — and as a youth 
I longed to make my civil Athens street 
Echo to Sparta with a brother's call. 

Third Ephor. But I am moved. 

Fourth Ephor. And I. 

Ste. Art grown so old 

You'll feed on pap again .'^ Come, Biades, 
A song Amycla taught you ! One will prove 
Your love remembers Sparta. 

Bia. Sir, I'm not 

Your zany. 

Ste. But you'd make my country one, 
To antic for you. 

[Re-enter Lenon with howl of broth] 

Ste. Here's your portion, sir. 
Amycla made no better. Will you drink? 

[Gives bowl to Biades, who regards the black mixture 
dubiously. All are silent, watching him. He looks at 
Pyrrha] 

Bia. [To Pyrrha] Is't poison? 

Pyrr. [Stolid] It may be. 

Bia. [To Senators] Your will 's in this? 

First Senator. It is. 

Bia. If this be pledge that binds me yours, 
Fellow of board and field, I drink long life 



164 ASONOFHERMES' 

To our compact. But if death waits here, — to you, 
O comrade shades, and our good fellowship! 

[Drinks. The Spartans applaud] 

Ste. You lean to him, and Sparta topples with you! 

A Young Man. [Entering] Agis is up! He comes! 
And bears no grudge 
For a good Greek blow. Says you could give no less. 

[Enter Agis] 

Bia. High Zeus, I thank thee! Agis, thou dost live 
To take my pardon and to give me thine! 

[They take hands] 

Ste. So soft.? 

Lys. Better than blows. 

Ste. Ha! Like disease 

He'll spread the woman till our eyes drop tears 
Instead of fire. When Spartan eagles moult, 
They'll go no farther than Athenian owls. 

Lys. He's valiant. 

Ste. There's no braver tongue. 

Lys. And friend 

To Phernes. 

Ste. So he says. 

Lys. Nay, that's well known. 

Ste. My captain comrades, and ye aged fathers. 
If ye had seen him strut, a vanity 
As brainless as the monkey at his heels, 
With woman velvets making slut of wealth 
Trailing foul dust, — a peacock fan at 's cheek 
Where a soldier's beard should grow, and bangled ears 
Whose swinging jewels tickled a white neck 
Soft as a harlot's pillow, — this at time 
His city laid such honor on his head 
As would have kept a brave man on his knees 
For wisdom to uphold it, — had ye looked on this, 



A SON OF HERMES 165 

Ye'd call the weakest maiden from her wheel 
To lead our wars ere trust to Blades ! 

First Ephor. A picture this, — shakes faith. 

Second Ephor. We trust too far. 

Ste. Sirs, had ye seen what I but paint 

Bia. My lords, 

I'll wrestle with the stoutest Spartan youth 
That makes your wars most dreaded, and these limbs. 
Now shrunk with fasting, wasted and forsook 
By Fortune that once fed them as her own, 
Will prove my right to captain Sparta's host! 

Ste. Our women could undo you, girl of Athens ! 
Meet his bold brag with this. One of our maids 
Shall throw him! Ay! Then he'll betake his shame 
To any shade will hide it. 

Hie. Sir, I sue 

To lay this boast. 

Agis. My prayer be first, my lords! 

Voices. A lot! A lot! 

Ste. Nay, sons, a fall from you 

Would give him hope to pick his honor up 
And steal again to favor. He will plead 
That you, full-fed, met him in famished hour. 
When Fate hung him with bruises leeching strength, 
And gave you victory. Let my offer hold. 
A maiden to him, and we'll hear no more 
Of valorous Biades. 

First Ephor. We are agreed. 

Second Ephor. Who is our strongest maid.-^ 

Lys. We've six whose claims 

Push equal. All in public game have won 
The bow of Artemis. 

First Ephor. We'll choose from these. 

Bia. Olympus, shower me woes ! I will not cringe, 
So they be man's. But save me from a mock 



1G6 ASONOFHERMES 

That makes misfortune past seem sweet as drops 
From Hera's healing cup! 

Dia. A mock? The gods 

Have never honored you till now. 

Myr. See these, 

My bantling? Arms that made Kalides wear 
A three months' bruise! 

The. And these have locked the strength 

Of Lenon in defeat! 

Dia. Ask Mirador 

If he liked well the sandy bed I gave him. 

Nac. Bethink you now how you'll outcrow disgrace, 
For you'll be short of breath when you've gone through 
The brash I'll give you. 

Dia. Then he'll show his reefed 

And wattled skin, and say that want of bread 
O'ercame him, not our valor. 

Art. Look you, maids ! 

His hollow eyes do beg some pity of us. 
We'll give him yet a chance, and mate him with 
Our lame Coraina. She's near well again. 
Will drop her crutch to be our champion. 

Bia. Zeus, 

Behold me patient! Furies, though I lack 
Some vaunting flesh, the sharpest ill that on 
My body ravins feeds a spirit that 
Might meet with Heracles and give him need 
Of both his arms! 

Dia. Ha! Better! Maids, his tongue 
Will fight yet! 

Ste. Peace! The ephors choose 

That Dianessa bear this honor off. 
She threw strong Mirador, first of the youths, 
Which puts her o'er the rest. 



A SON OF HERMES 167 

First Ephor. We've else determined 

That with the fall the Athenian forfeits life. 

Bia. And if I win, my lords? Since life must pay 
Defeat, should victory not solicit me 
With counterpoised prize? 

First Ephor. We shall accept you 

Leader and comrade, and give escort fair 
To bear your suit to Phernes. 

Lys. More! The maid 

Shall be your bride, and bind you son and brother 
To Sparta's love. 

Second Ephor. You, Stesilaus, assent? 

Ste. Since without risk you may pursue your folly, 
I'll not oppose you. 

First Ephor. Dianessa, you 

Abide our will? 

Dia. And w^elcome it. 'Twill work 
Like Mars in me, and make my arm 
The gallows of his fame. The Athenian lady! 
I'd choose a husband among men. 

Bia. And I, 

My generous, dear lords, would woo and win 
Some mute and humble maid. I would not force 
The noble Dianessa bend her head 
To one unworthied by a hostile Fate. 

First Ephor. Tut, sir! If Fortune's love returns with 
heat 
That makes you conqueror, by that same sun 
Her pride will melt, and you will find her meek 
As gosling in your hand. 

Second Ephor. 'Tis settled so. 

Wear what you win. 

Pyrr. [Rising] Ye reverend men, and you, 
My noble father, may my suit reveal 
My love to Sparta and your love to me, 



168 A SON OF HERMES 

Which has not spoken in this act of yours 
That overpeers me and gives up my due 
To Dianessa. 

First Ephor. Ha? 

Pyrr. Though Mirador 

Was forced below her, never in a bout 
Has she ta'en honors from me, while I oft 
Have left her down. 

Second Ephor. Speak'st truly? 

Pyrr. Hear herself 

Avouch it. 

Dia. Ay, you overmate me, but 
The gap between us will not cast the match 
To Biades. And I was chosen. 

Fourth Ephor. Nay, 

You must give place. 

Pyrr. I've other reason, sir. 

It is my dear, war-honored father lays 
This match on Sparta, and my pride of house 
Would bear his counsel through the act that sets 
The sage's seal upon it. 

First Ephor. A daughter, sir! 

Ste. Bare duty might so speak. 

Pyrr. This gives me warmth 

My maiden comrades lack. By every vein 
My father gave me, his time-laurelled brow 
Shall never wear a garland less! 

Second Ephor. Well sworn! 

Pyrr. And for I saw 

Third Ephor. More reasons? 

Pyrr. — the rude shame 

The Athenian put upon the ambassadors. 
And mine own eyes bore him in lowest semblance, 
Demeaned from manhood, his dishonor wrapped 
In purple cost that left it yet more naked, 



ASONOFHERMES 169 

I swear lie shall not honored lead our wars! 
If our gray heroes fail us, we have dames 
To choose from, — need not go to Athens! 

First Ephor. This speaks ! The victory's won where 
courage makes 
Such stout provision. 

Pyrr. If I fail, my lords, 

Then gods are mongers and their favors sell, 
Denying honest prayers. 

Lys. Come, Biades. 

Art ready? 

Bia. Ay, long past! 

First Ephor. Your places then. 

Ste. Delay you ! Biades, with modesty 
Unlooked for, but most fit, you gave up claim 
To Dianessa, 

Bia. Nay, 'twas but an offer 
Whose bounty met refusal. 

Ste. I'll accept it 

In Pyrrha's name. 

Bia. So prudent against loss? 

This caution, sir, gives me a victor's heart. 

Ste. Triumph is hers a certain thousand times, 
And yours a dicer's once, slipped you between 
Hiccough and snore of gods at shutting time. 
But since that once will have a thousandth chance 
To trouble me, I'll grant you free of Pyrrha. 

Bia. Wait till 'tis begged. Lysander spoke with kind 
And equal honor, which did soften me 
To leave his daughter his. And others here 
Have tendered me the gentle looks that breed 
The answering benison till hearts of earth 
Feel heaven's element. But you, whose hate 
Should hiss from crawling shape, not upright man's. 
Wake fires in me that eat through godly patience 



170 ASONOFHERMES 

And sweep to battle. I'll endure no further. 
Back with your taunts ! And if 'twill make you sore 
Where pride is daintiest, I'll your daughter wed 
Because she is your daughter! 

Ste. Bark, you puppy. 

But you'll not carry it! 

Bia. Were she featured foul 

As snaked Medusa, — her brow a hanging night, — 
Her figure hooped as age when chin and toes 
Are neighbors, — and of speech so scaly, harsh 
As Stesilaus, — I, with no more color 
Or shade of reason than that you deny me, 
Would make her bride. The ephors gave their word. 
And what I win I'll wear! 

First Ephor. We'll see you do. 

Content you, Stesilaus. None will weep 
To know your bluff soul matched. To place! To place! 

[They wrestle. Pyrrha loses. Silence, then applause for 
Biades] 

A Lord. My heait upheld him, for I know him brave. 

Another. I saw his dripping sword on Theban plain 
Cut through the knotted fray and make two fields 
O' the combat. 

Another. He can pray too, Delphi knows! 

Another. But when his gallant prayers their action find 
The gods themselves rage in them. 

First Ephor. [To Pyrrha] Daughter, take 
Fair thanks from us for brave support of Sparta, 
And having lost, more thanks for giving her 
Another soldier. Has defeat made soft 
Your heart for swift espousal.^ 

Bia. Let me woo 

In slower way, good father. Tho' my boast 
Rose high 'gainst Stesilaus' scorn, I'm not 
Of heart so rash that I would lose her love 



ASONOFHERMES 171 

By taking it. With Sparta's aid now mine, 
I'll ask her choose a noble guard and sail 
With me, that I, by time and fortune graced, 
May win a double suit, herself and Persia. 

First Ephor. We'll think of it. Our plans are still 
un threshed. 
Come with us, Biades. 

[Ephors, with senators and Biades, lead the way over 
bridge. All follow except Stesilaus and Pyrrha] 

Ste. How was 't he w^on? 

And he was livid famine ! Scurf ed with weeks 
Of beggary ! While you — such arms had saved 
Antiope from Theseus ! 

[Pyrrha droops silent] 
Up, my daughter! 
W^e'll make this fall our hope. You shall take sail 
With Biades 

Pyrr. Gods hear me, no! 

Ste. You will. 

I know his aim. He will betray our force 
To Athens, — pardon's price. Athenian ease 
Is in his marrow like a siren sleep. 
And all this hardy show is but to buy 
His languors back. You'll watch within his ship. 
With Hieron a second secret eye. 
And when his treachery ripens, take command 
And bring him bound to Sparta. 

Pyrr. Be so near? 

Sail in his ship? 

Ste. Be near him as a wife. 

Watch close. Lie in his thoughts, though not his bed. 
And if he presses to the shrine of favor. 
Here is my dagger. This will be your guard. 
Let him meet death upon it, — and that death 
Be honor's sanctuary. Come! My brow 



172 ASONOFHERMES 

Must smooth submissive to the senators. 
Clear too your face with summer poHcy. 
Thus openly we'll hide. The State's turned fool. 
And naught between her and perdition save 
An old man and a girl ! [Exit] 

Pyrr. [Gazing at dagger] If this cold blade 
Were seeking traitors 't might look in my heart. 

[Curtain] 



ACT IV 

Scene: On board a galley off Athens. An open door left 
of centre y rear, shows a moonlit sea. Cressets burning 
within. Pyrrha discovered, seated and fingering a dag- 
ger. A diminishing sound of dipping oars and rowers 
singing. 

God of the bold who ride 

With song o'er their dead 
Whose unsown graves wait wide, 

The singers' bed, — 
Poseidon, befriend, befriend. 
And the good wind send! 

The sirens are on their rocks; 

Like a pierced moon 
Weeping her gold, their locks 

To the waters run. 
Poseidon, befriend, befriend. 
And the good wind send! 

Fleet are the foam-toothed hounds 

That hunt unfed. 
With hunger that aches like wounds. 

And ships their bread. 
Poseidon, befriend, befriend, 
And the good wind send! 

[Enter Lysander] 
Pyrr. Lysander! You? Is 't battle? 
Lys. At dawn we move 

Upon the Athenian ships. 

173 



174 ASONOFHERMES 

Pyrr. They've come from harbor? 

Lys. Nay, lurking still, fear-cabled to the land. 
Like weanlings round a skirt. 

Pyrr. At last a battle! 

And Biades is true. The watch is done. 
I'm sick of spying, hanging on him like 
A doubt with teeth. He leaves this galley then? 

Lys. Commands from the Ino, now so brave repaired 
She sits her place as though the sea and air 
Debated who should claim her, and she no more 
Adorns both elements than herself 's adorned 
By our young admiral. 

Pyrr, He is gone? So soon? 

Lys. Went, but is here again, and here must stay 
These next three hours or more. 

Pyrr. Why so, Lysander? 

Lys. We sacrifice aboard Thrasyllus' ship. 
Where now the captains gather, and the hand 
Of one who leads the foe to his fathers* hearth 
Would cloud the omen. He must keep apart. 

Pyrr. You've told him that? 

Lys. We have not dared. 

Pyrr. Not dared? 

Way, Spartan lions, for the Athenian puppy! 

Lys. He's tender with his honor. 

Pyrr, His honor! 

Lys. Soft ! 

We shunt all danger if you mew him here 
Unwitting of our hand. 

Pyrr. I do not wear. 

Athene's aegis on my jerkin, friend. 

Lys. You can divinely drug his vanity 
Without immortal aid. Attach him by 't, 
For free he'll chafe. Drift with him in such wise 
He'll not suspect our rudder. 



ASONOFHERMES 175 

Pyrr. Ay, more lies. 

Lys. Truth is no absolute virtue. 'Tis a vice 
If 't takes a screw from safety. 

Pyrr. There is law 

Higher than Sparta utters. If not so, 
What mean our altars, and a kneeling world? 

Lys. Hmm! I delay the sacrifice. Dost know 
I take my Dianessa? A virgin's hand 
Must weave the victim's garland. 

Pyrr. Ah, the moon 

Of Artemis! A virgin's hand. They ask 
Not mine.^ 

Lys. You are a bride in Sparta's eyes. 
Would Truth might speak it too! For Blades 
Has won all love but yours. 

Pyrr. I'll wed no traitor. 

Lys. What.? He is false? 

Pyrr. Ay, false to Athens. 

Lys. Phut! 

[Enter Hieron] 

Hie. How like you this, sir? Blades has stripped 
The galley of its rowers, — sent them all 
To his gilded Ino, — every boat in charter 
To bear his trappings, — parchments, maps, and gifts 
From Phernes, — curtains, instruments 

Lys. The stuff 

Goes with the admiral, and what other w^ay 
Than by the boats? Say naught of 't. 

Hie. This a time 

To spend a feathering! 

Lys. Nay 

Hie. And why send all? 

A half — a third — had answered. There's not left 
An oarsman on the galley save the men 
Who brought you from the Thetis. 



176 A SON OF HERMES 

Lys. You've the guard, — 

Yourself its head. Give Biades his way 
When prudence pays no cost. We've hedged and hemmed 
His wrestHng will until his pride is brashed 
To the rebel quick 

Hie. Sst! He is here. 

[Biades stands in door] 

Bia. Ly Sander, 

They hail you from Thrasyllus' ship. You stay 
The rites. 

Lys. [Troubled] But is it time 

Bia. Full time. 

Lys. My boat 

Bia. Is waiting. 

Lys. I — you, sir 

Bia. You'll bear my grace 

To our priestly captains? 

Lys. You stay here? 

Bia. I shall, 

If you'll not press me other. As you pray 
For clearer omen and a morning battle. 
Let only those whose land holds them untainted 
Stand in the holy ring. 

Lys. Above our prayers 

This act will speak to Heaven in Sparta's name 
And make her gods your own. 

Bia. If that might be, 

Lysander! To have no altars is a fate 
Man can not bear for long. 

Hie. The rowers, sir! 

How soon do they return? 

Bia. They've leave to see 

The midnight toward with their fellow crew 
On the Ino. 



ASONOFHERMES 177 

Hie. Midnight! 

Bia. Loyal beggars, all. 
They're sad to lose their captain, and I pay 
Their grieving flattery with this stinted lease 
From duty here. They'll use 't in prayerful rite 



Hie. Not prayer ! The casks will drip too free for that. 
If any prayers come from the heart to throat. 
They'll downward wash again, not out and fly. 
Say'st midnight, sir.'^ 

Bia. I do. They will return 

In time to set the galley from the cast 
Of morning danger. 

Hie. Move again? The ship 

Is now to rearward, by some rods. 

Bia. She is. 

And shall go farther. Here's no fighting deck. 

Hie. Ay, these soft cabins, Corinth-modelled as 
A prince, would make a floating holiday, 
Put soldiers from their place. 

Bia. The ship must lie 

Full east, on th' safest wave. We've treasure 'neath 
These sails that make their weathered woof more dear 
Than threaded gold of Hera's mantle. 

Hie. Ah, 

You mean the women. 

Bia. No, — a woman. Come, 

Ly Sander. 

Lys. Sir, what time wilt take your place 
Aboard the Ino? 

Bia. Give me till the midnight. 

I'll from that moment be your admiral. 
But for these gentle hours that lie between, 
I would as merest man use their light wings 
To chase a hope through heaven. 



178 ASONOFHERMES 

Lys. [With a glance at Pyrrha] And bring it down. 
My lord! 

[Exeunt Lysander, Biades, and Hieron] 

Pyrr. Now, Impudence, no more's to do! 
Go up and take thy crown. Before my eyes 
He teaches them he wooes me, and my pride 
Mutely abets his guile. [Holds up the dagger] 

My fine defence, 
Thou'rt warder to a bosom unbesieged. 
In Biades' contempt I have a guard 
That saves thine office. Go, you glittering mock! 

[In a passion of resolution she throws the dagger through 
the door] 
That's done. No matter. He does not look at me, 
Or looks as though his eyes begged pardon of him. 
For their chance stop on nothing. 

[Re-enter Biades, the dagger in his hand] 

Bia. Here's a toy 

Caught from the rigging. Yours, I think. 

[Offers it to her. She does not take it] 
It must be dear. I've seen you fondle it. 
Is it not yours? 

Pyrr. It was. 

Bia. Then is. And worth 

Your keeping. A good blade, though Spartan plain. 

Pyrr. I'm weary of it. In Athens I shall find 
Another pattern. 

Bia. [Testing blade] Fine and strong. Will wear 
A hundred years, then make a door for death. 

[Turns it against his heart. She starts] 
You'll take it, Pyrrha. To throw it to the sea 
Were waste for an Athenian. 

Pyrr. Keep it then. 

Bia. You give this blade to me? 



ASONOFHERMES 179 

Pyrr. I care not. Keep 

What you have praised. 

Bia. [Pressing it against his cheek] 
A gentle weapon, — but 
I've somewhat 'gainst it. 

[Goes to door and throws it far into the sea] 
Kiss the waves, my friend ! 

[Returns to Pyrrha and sits by her] 

Bia, [Softly] I leave the ship to-night. 

Pyrr. [Uneasy] And time you led 

The fleet to battle. You've excused delay 
Till palling breath became the shroud of action, 
And yet refused it funeral. 

Bia. I know 

How you have doubted. O, this soul of Sparta, 
That can not trust! It peeps from every eye. 
Deepest where kindest. Tags each friendly word 
With its unspoken dread, — and comradeship. 
That strives to wrap it in a gala cloak. 
Strains vainly round the huge, dun doubt, agape 
In dreary revelation. 

Pyrr. You are free 

To leave us. 

Bia. Free? Five Spartan nobles watch 

Beside me, move with every step, for so 
The admiral must be honored! Hieron 
Foregoes his place at sacrifice to serve 
My dignity. Not for his gods he'll put 
A furlong 'tween us. 

Pyrr. He's the ship's good eye. 

And all the men except the lords of guard 
Are, by your grace, a-neighboring. Would you leave 
The galley without watch .^^ 

Bia. No, Pyrrha, sweet. 

But I would woo you with no ear at the door. 



180 ASONOFHERMES 

Pyrr. [Rising] My lord! 

Bia. [Indifferent] Nay, then. I can't oppose the sex 
Of Aphrodite. My one frailty. 

Pyrr. One ! 

Bia. What? I have more.'^ 

Pyrr. The moments of your hfe 

Are not so many ! 

Bia. Gods be thanked, I'm young! 

How may I change to please a Spartan scold? 

Pyrr. Be anything you're not. 

Bia. You have not heard 

I am the admiral of the Spartan fleet. 
With Persian Phernes yonder at my beck. 
Broad-winged with all Phoenicia? You know not 
I am a general? 

Pyrr. Oh, to be that name, 

Not make 't thy bauble ! What dost know 
Of secret, sleepless hours, and delving thought 
That nations may lie safe? By what grave right 
Wear you the title? What deep sacrifice? 

Bia. Leave sacrifice to fools and women! Ay, 
More lies are huddled in that saintly word 
Than ever smirked outside it. The strong soul 
Low bowing there, lies to his god, — the weak 
Lies to the world behind a holy shield 
That turns the spear of justice. Pallas, hear! 
A general makes himself a master, lest 
The State make him a servant. 

Pyrr. True in Athens! 

But you've another name. I've heard you called 
The young philosopher. Play you at that. 
'Twill tire naught but the tongue. Yours will go far. 

Bia. Nay, spare me toil of spirit searching through 
Earth, sea, and sky for phrases magical 



ASONOFHERMES 181 

To wrap creation in, as 'twere a babe 

Each man might call his own could he but find 

Some good-wife fancy to deliver it. 

No other hope? 

Pyrr. They name you poet, too. 

Build round your spirit an Elysian cheat 
And buzz it through upon a golden wing. 
Is that not idle enough? 

Bia. You touch me now 

With flattery's gold point. I wince and love 
The pain. Yet I'd not be a frolic breath 
At play with Spring and florets in the dew, 
Or move in rhymed courtesies before 
The smile or frown of gods. Trick my dear soul 
In May-day rags to catch a languid eye. 
Babble of moods and minds, how some think this. 
Some that, and some have never thought. Drone how 
On such a day one struck another down, 
Or led a fleet, or laid a city wall. 

Pyrr. What would you sing then, pray? 

Bia. I would not sing. 

Was there not poetry before men spake? 
I'd go behind the broidered veil we've wrought 
Before the face of one that we loved much 
And then forgot for beauty of the shroud. 
The old lere's lost, the new but irks our dream. 
We listen to ourselves, while round us ever 
Are worlds that vainly pluck us to their doors, 
Giving us sign in lightning, heat, and wave. 
In flake of snow, flint-spark, and crystal rock, 
In stones that make the iron creep, and color. 
Fair flag and challenge to our shuttered minds. 

Pyrr. [Moving nearer] Oh! 

Bia. [Seeming to forget lier] 

Round our lives is life whose destiny 
Is that frontier no word of ours has crossed. 



182 ASONOFHERMES 

But man to come shall plant and harvest there, 
Where his soul sets the plough. 

Pyrr. [Softly] You know that too? 

Bia. That life shall warm his barest common way 
Of in and out. In field and market-place, 
He'll lay his cheek 'gainst its unbodied love 
And flush translations of its silent touch. 
Then will be poets! Thought that now must fail 
In bird-wing flight, shall from a violet's eye 
O'erlook the sun. Till then I will not sing. 

Pyrr. Not fight, philosophize, or sing! 
What's left for an Athenian? 

Bia. [Remembering her] Love, fair Pyrrha! 
You know the tale how Chaos once uncurled 
Her laboring bulk from round a fire-leafed rose 
And sent its petals drifting down to fields 
Where mortals foot with chance? Whoso they touch 
Are lovers always, and one came to me. 

Pyrr. Now here's ambition! And you live for that? 

Bia. Ay there's the charm contents me with dull earth, 
And puts a rainbow in my listless hand. 
The way is pleasant if the road be love's. 
And I'd not shorten it by one maid's eye. 
To be a lover, — that's the graceful thing. 
Then one moves velvetly, forgets no curve, 
And lives his picture, line and color true. 

Pyrr. That role's struck from your play, you'll find, 
my lord. 
Maidens will smile, but scorn will set the lip, 
And women's eyes be warm, but hate their fire 
For you, the traitor. 

Bia. Traitor? 

Pyrr. [In the door] See the gleam 
On Athens, yours no more. The softest breast 
Within her walls is steel when you are named. 



ASONOFHERMES 183 

Bia. But there are maids in Sparta. 

Pyrr. Not for you, 

A traitor to the soil that gave you life. 

Bia. That soil first cast me off. 

Pyrr. A mother strikes 

Her child, but should the child return the blow 
Gods would droop eyes and blush. 

Bia. But were I true 

To my own land, I should be false to yours. 

Pyrr. A virtue that. A maid might love you then. 

Bia. A Spartan maid.^ 

Pyrr. A Spartan maid. But now 

We hold you as no more than loathed bait 
To capture Athens. Used as a stuck fly 
To hook a chub ! 

[Enter Hieron] 

Bia. What saucy fury sports 
With Hieron? His even smile 's unfixed 
As the middle of two minds. 

Hie. Sir, Phernes sends 

Six maidens from his ship to dance before you. 
The noble Persian chooses time most fit 
For wantoning, — the hour of sacrifice 
And battle prayer. 

Bia. You're justly kindled. What 
Though it be royal custom in his East, — 
A grace from king to king, — to garnish danger 
With frillet of relief that makes death seem 
The last-dropped toy, we'll dare to let him know 
That we are Greeks, and walk the edge of graves 
With eyes upon the gods. Go, pack them off! 

Hie. Why, — so I meant. The act struck rudely on 
Our ritual hour. But if his Eastern mind 
Paints it a courtesy 

Bia, A sovereign honor. 



184 ASONOFHERMES 

Hie. He is of haughtj' blood, — burns at rebuff 

Bia. Ay, like a hornet blind. A thousand times 
I've eased his fret and run his humor's mould 
Like summer wax, lest he should break from Sparta 
That stood in rigid ruin. Now I leave it! 
His anger can be put to gentlest sleep, 
But 'tis no babe when stirred. Choose as you will. 
Hie, The honor is to you. Be yours the answer. 

Bia. I'm worn with him. Three hours to-day I played 
His vanity, while chance touched either side, 
Waiting the word that should cut through suspense 
And seal him ours for battle. 

Hie. To huff his pride 

'Tween this and dawn would poorly soothe our own 
At an uncertain cost. But let him leer 
I' the oracles' face. . . . 

Bia. He has not sent Alissa? 

Hie. There's one so calls herself. Spoke out the name 
As we should fall before it. 

Bia. She's most free 

In Phernes' heart. Knows all the honey-ways 
To his secret soul, and what is said to her 
He'll hear ere morn. As you love victory, 
I hope you met her gently. 

Hie. If surprise 

Made greeting harsh, I will undo that harm 
With softer welcome. And beseech you, sir. 
To suffer this mistimed civility 
For Sparta's sake. 

Bia. I will, dear Hieron, 

Since 'tis your suit. 

Hie. Thanks, thanks, my lord. 

Bia. Let them come in. I'll see their briefest dance. 
And give Alissa one commending word. 



ASONOFHERMES 185 

Which straight as faithful bee she'll hive 
In Phernes' ear. 

[Exit Hieron] 
What think you of it, Pyrrha? 
You do approve me? 

Pyrr. Approve your wits, my friend. 
Had they been Spartan trained, you'd bring them oflF, 
Untarnished still, from argument with Zeus. 

Bia. When Pallas praises, bow. 

Pyrr. Poor Hieron 

Is now the sweating agent of your will 
To see these callets dance. 

Bia. Unpitiful! 

I'd touch my lips to Lethe, and you'd snatch 
The oblivious drop from me! You know how dear 
The bond that shall be cut with sword of dawn, — 
So close no seer may tell which shall bleed most, 
Athens or her lost son. 

Pyrr. Art low at last.^^ 

Bia. Dun, dun, my Pyrrha, as a Barbary pigeon! 
So low not all my pride can vaunt me up. 
Then let me have my wine, — the draught of eyes, 
Of music and of smiles, till I be drunk 
And sleep. 

[Enter six Athenian youths, led by Clearchus, all dis- 
guised as Persian dancers. As they dance before Bi- 
ades his pleasure quiclcens to abandonment] 

Bia. Ah, Pyrrha, you've denied my heart 
All noble love, but here 's a pleasure left. 
Soft eyes and gentle bosoms may be mine 
Where scorn is taught to sleep and never sting. 
That is Alissa. We must honor her. 

[He signals Clearchus, and the others pass out, leaving 
him to dance alone. As he ventures more flirtatiously 
about Biades, Pyrrha's disgust increases and she re- 



186 ASONOFHERMES 

treats. Clearchus, dancing mockingly^ follows her to 
door, and when she has passed through audaciously 
closes it] 

Bia. Now! Quick! In name of Zeus! The senators 
Received my message? 

Clea. [Darting to Biades] Ay, the answer's here! 

[Gives him a parchment] 
Full pardon! Athens will lay down her walls 
To make your entry proud ! Her gates are small, 
For honor she intends you ! 

Bia. [Glances at parchment and sobs] 
My Athens ! Mine ! Though she should take my life. 
And my bruised body fling unburied forth, 
Yet would my shade drop kisses on her soil 
And weep to leave it for Elysium! [TVith sudden control] 
What of my plan? 

Clea. Adopted, in each item. 

Soon as the dropping moon is in the sea. 
The Athenian rowers, coming as your own, 
Will board this galley and bear her a bird 
To th' harbor nest. 

Bia. They've force to meet the guards? 

Clea. Thrice measured, sir. The Theia 

Bia. My own ship! 

Clea. Your own — will meet you, every sailor true 
As when he wept your banishment. And Phaon, 
Critias, Pelagon, Antiganor, 
With twenty senators and men of name. 
Wait on her deck in welcome. 

Bia. Back, ye tears! 

The rowers know my signal? 

Clea. Yes, my lord. 

Three cressets on the left, — set here in this 
Embrazure. They will watch, near as they dare, 



I 



ASONOFHERMES 187 

And instantly as darts your triple gleam 
Their oars will sweep you answer. 

[A commotion without] 

Bia. Hist! What's wrong? 

[Enter Hieron and Pyrrha. Hieron goes to Clearchus and 
tears off his veil and head-dress] 

Clea. O, pardon! I'll confess! 

Hie. 'Tis you, my lord, 

I now unmask, not this bought wretch. 

Bia. What, sir? 

Hie. Your Persian dancers are Athenian boys, 
All slim as lizards. We o'er-eyed their steps, 
And on suspicion gave them such a pinch 
The truth flew out. 

Bia. Their guilt does not prove mine. 

Is it my crime that Athens touched me near 
With bribe of pardon? 

Pyrr. Hear the boy. You are 
Clearchus? And of Athens? 

Clea. I am. 

Pyrr. You brought 

His pardon. Did he welcome it? 

Clea. He did. 

Bia. He lies ! The coward lies ! 

Clea. He did agree 

That Phernes should draw off his fleet and join 
With Athens. 

Bia. Oh! Where are the Olympian thunders 
That they now let you live? 

Hie. Draw off his fleet 

To-night? 

Clea. Ere dawn. 

Bia. That such an atom — such 

A trifle of a body could enclose 
So great a lie ! 



188 ASONOFHERMES 

Clea. The Persian is at watch, 
Waiting the signal 

Bia. Toad! 

Clea. If pardon came, 

Two cressets set 

Bia. I'll shred him! 

Clea. At the left 

Just here, my lord, would start the Persian ships 
For Athens. 

Bia. Oh! 

Clea. But if three cressets burnt, 

Then he would hold to Sparta. 

Hie. Three? 

Clea. Three, sir. 

Look in his bosom if you'd read the proof. 
His pardon's there. 

Bia. By the altars I have lost. 
By Sparta's yet unwon, I swear he lies ! 

[Pyrrha snatches the parchment frovi his boso7n] 

Bia. You bat — you mole — you cur-born flea 

Clea. [To Hieron] O, sir. 

Your mercy! Save me from him! 

Hie. Wait without. 

Pyrr. Full pardon! Bring the irons! We are sold! 
Irons for Biades! 

Bia. [Accepting defeat] Ay, let me wear 
My honor's livery. Every foe-locked gyve 
Will be my country's kiss, and make my blood 
Flow proud beneath it. Irons! Load me down. 
Now that you know me man, and not the thrall 
Of vilest fear that buys suspected breath 
With a mother-city's doom. 

Pyrr. I'll grant you, sir, 

That by this act you do no longer lie 
In the unconsidered trash of estimation. 



I 



A SON OF HERMES 189 

But have crept up in my surprised mind 

To where I keep my jewels of regard. 

That is soon said, — but for the rest, you die. 

And more than die, for we shall hurl your name 

A palsy over Athens. 

Bia. You'll not fight 

Athens and Persia! 

Pyrr. Persia is not lost. 

Your signal is unlit. 

Hie. But we'll hght ours ! 

Three cressets 

Pyrr. [Stopping him] Wait! The event's too great 
To helve with such slight word. That snivelling blab 
May 've lied, or crossed the signals, for the young 
Are easiest dyed in craft, and take its hue 
As natively as innocence doth wear 
Its smile in sleep. 

Hie. What then? 

Pyrr. You'll go to Phernes. 

Hie. There are no boats. 

Pyrr. Tut, take the boats that brought 

Those purfled cymlings here. Their rowers too. 
Ah, Blades, you'll serve us still. And thought 
To trap all Sparta with this tip-toe bait ! 
We have a saying, "Wit against the world, — " 
And there's another too, "The last lie wins." 
Hast heard it. Blades? We'll bear your word 
To Phernes that with dawn you move with him 
Upon the Athenian sails. 

Bia. He'll hear no word 

From Spartan mouth. So 'twas agreed between us, 
To annul such move as this if chance should strip 
My bent of cover. I alone may reach 
His ear with Sparta's prayer. 



190 ASONOFHERMES 

Pyrr, We'll cast for proof 

Of that. If true, we shall remember, sir, 
That Sparta has won cities with no aid 
From Persia. 

Bia. You'll not go alone to meet 
The strength of Athens? 

Pyrr, Your far- winged name 

And sea-born battle-skill shall go with us. 
Your single arm 's no loss, but in your fame, 
Yet ours to use, the Spartan strength 
Is doubled. Ha! They call us landmen, — say 
We must have feet on ground ere we can fight. 
But you they fear, bred to the wave, and first 
Of their commanders. 

Bia, Let me die, but leave 

My name unmurdered. 

Pyrr, It shall be outflung 

In challenge to the Athenians. They know well 
The sailor rabble loves you, and will oppose 
But half a heart to Blades. Some too. 
Of higher place, believe you wronged, and fear 
The angered gods will station on your side. 
By spearman Ares, you shall keep the oath 
Great-sworn on Sparta's ground, to set her lance 
Through Athens' triple shield! Ay, though you lie 
In irons waiting death. 

Bia. The sunken souls 

Of deepest, damned Dis have never borne 
So vile a sting! You can not mean it, Pyrrha. 
Cast on my soul what Pluto would disbar 
From his fire- vaulted hell.^ I'll proudly die 
For treachery to you, but clear my name 
To Athens. Take not life and honor too! 

Pyrr. One you may save, — your life. 

Bia, What do you say? 



I 



ASONOFHERMES 191 

Pyrr. Draw Phernes back to us, and you shall live. 

Bia. You offer me but death, knowing I could not live 
A traitor. 

Pyrr. You choose to die as one? 

Bia. Oh, Zeus, 

All-giver, hear! 

Pyrr. What gain is death to you 

If reputation dies eternally 
In Athens' hate? Sparta will do as much 
As spare your life. 

Bia. Nay 

Pyrr. She shall nothing know 

Of this hour's lapse 

Bia. O, bitter stars! O, Death 

Past fatal! — reaching o'er thy charnel bound 
To usurp the immortal garden! Die a traitor! 
Never will dew from a forgiving eye 
Fall on my grave! 

Pyrr. Nor will the upbraiding gaze 
Of Heaven be more tender. For you chose 
To risk your country's life on turn of chance, 
Having no surety that drawn to danger 
You then could pluck her out. Ah, made her fate 
Your stake at dice, because, escaped the hazard. 
You'd toss with her to fortune! And your guilt 
Is heavy in her fall as though your hand 
Bore down her last defence and fierce untrussed 
Her heart to th' wolvish air. 

Bia. Oh, Pyrrha, Pyrrha! 

Pyrr. Then why haste on to death? The noblest shades 
Will make no room for you where'er they walk. 
Why rush through the first gate to meet their cold 
Immortal scorn? 

Bia. But life with honor gone! 



192 ASONOFHERMES 

Pyrr. If death could buy it, then 'twere wise 
To buy so goldenly. But that's too late. 
Choose life, — with honor such as Sparta lays 
On those who serve but her. This treachery 
That we've by hap unbagged in 'ts eanling hour 
Shall be safe snugged again. And cherished tool 
For in my eyes it is the one brave flower 
Of your most barren being. None shall know it, 
And Sparta, as she will, may laurels weave 
About your faith. 

Bia. But Hieron? 

Pyrr. [To Hieron] You'll swear with me? [He hesitates] 
In Sparta's name.^^ [Takes his hand] And mine.'^ 

Bia. No, no! 

Hie. I'll swear. 

Bia. Oh, not that price ! No, till the end 

O' the world! 

Pyrr. Life, Biades, life! 

Bia. I will not do it! 

Athens may singly conquer! 

Pyrr. Then you die 

By Sparta's hand, and Athens holds your name 
Accursed through time. The irons, Hieron. 

[Biades hunches despairingly^ his face hidden] 

Pyrr. [Apart] Gods ! He will yield ! 

Bia. [Looking up] I'll do it, — dare to live, — 
And Attica may call me what she will. 
A traitor breathes, and feels the blessed sun. 
He's ne'er so poor but can his housing find 
In alms-lapped Nature. Her unchoosing airs 
Ask not his name before they touch his brow 
And tell him when 'tis spring. He yet may dream 
In unrebuking shades, and birds will sing 
As liquidly as though he were not by. 
Food is yet food, and wine is ever wine. 



ASONOFHERMES 193 

I will not die. [Rises] By Maia's son, I'll live! 
What is my country but the bit of earth 
Where chance did spawn me? 'Tis no treachery. 
We're traitors unto love, not hate, — to trust, 
Not doubt and slander such as Athens poured 
Upon me guiltless. 

Pyrr. [Crossing to him] So you've found a way 
To save both life and honor! 

Bia. May a worm 

Not creep to cleaner dust? Pyrrha, be kind. 
Spare me the trampling foot. 

Pyrr. We've lost an hour. 

You'll send to Phernes? 

Bia. First we'll signal him. 

He may be setting off. We must despatch. 
For if he saw no sign he meant to draw 
His fleet from doubtful waters and give aid 
To neither side. [Taking up a light] 

Three cressets — that was true. 
W'hen once these lights have spoken, he'll receive 
Your envoy as myself. Then Hieron 
May bear confirming word to him, and bring 
Assurance back. 

Hie. [To Pyrrha] You do not doubt? 

Pyrr. Doubt now? 

Nay, Hieron. FU trust him with his life. 

Hie. But 

Bia. [Trembling] O, ye gazing gods, must it be done.'^ 
In Athens' living heart set up the torch 
That leaves her a charred blotch where she lay white 
'Neath heaven and smiled up to sister stars! 

Pyrr. Come, Biades! 

Bia. Shall not the earth be lost 

To God's own eye when Athens, quenched, no more 
Marks where we wander? I can not do it! 



194 ASONOFHERMES 

Pyrr. [Taking the cresset] Too late, 
My lord! 

[Fixes light in the open embrasure, then places two others. 

Biades falls back, mantling his face] 
Hie. To Phernes now ! We must not boggle this ! 
Pyrr. If you've a doubt, sir, look on that. 

[Points to Biades] 
Hie. I'll hasten back to you. 
Bia. But note our light. 

The galley rowers may return ere you, 
And move us to the east. 

Hie. I shall not lose you. 

Bia. What escort will you take? A noble one 
Will best please Phernes. 

Hie. Mirador and Agis 

Shall go with me. Meanthes shall remain 
To be your watch. 

Bia. You'll tell them nothing? 

Hie. Sir, 

I've sworn. I shall say naught but this. That Athens 
Proffered you pardon, and you hold to Sparta. 

[Exit Hieron. Pyrrha watches from the door until the 
boats put off. The sea is now dark. Biades takes up 
a harp and strums it] 
Pyrr. [Turning] You can do that? And I — I held my 
heart 
At halt, there at the door, nor turned my head 
Lest pity should emburn my eyes to tears. 

[Crosses to him] 
Dost know that all the juniper in the world, 
Burnt in thy house of honor, would not cleanse 
Its doors of stench? [Throws the harp aside] 

And you can use that air 
For breath of song ! 



A SON OF HERMES 195 

Bia. Those are the bitterest words 
That ever dropped me gall, but I can jfind 
A crushed balsam in them, — for they say 
You might have loved me, Pyrrha. 

Pyrr. I might. 

Bia. You did. 

The moment that I cast my Spartan mask 
And showed me true to Athens, you were mine. 
That instant there was joy -fall on your heart 
That swept its icy sentinels with fire. 
And they were down. Oh, had I then proved staunch, 
Ta'en helmet off to death and bade him strike. 
You would have closed my eyes with kisses warm 
As rose-drift on a tomb 

Pyrr. Nay, I'd have kept 

Those eyes to be my light on earth, not star 
Elysian skies. Had fought for you against 
My mother Sparta. Fought as woman fights 
For her one love, — with wit and armed tongue, 
And cunning that throws puzzle on the gods. 
Fought till subdued Death had knelt to Fate 
And prayed your life for me ! 

Bia. Have I lost that.^^ 

Pyrr. You yielded — sank — unlustred even your soul 
For a poor pinch of time 

Bia. But if some touch 
Of heaven could make me true again 

Pyrr. Look on 

Those lights, that you with single breath could turn 
To weeping smoke, — they've lit a quenchless wreck 
That all your sighs blow vain against, — a flame 
Ungovernable to remorse. Not furrowing winds 
That split the watery fields to Thetis' bed, 
And make a foamy Ural of her shore. 
Can sweep it out. Ay, groan and shake. 
And draw your mantle up ! Behind a cover 



196 ASONOFHERMES 

Thick as Taygetus' sides, I'd see you limned 
In shame! 

Bia. [Springing up] What's shame to love? To love 
fire-sprung 
From instant meeting of fore-strangered eyes? 
And such was ours, there in that Athens' grove. 
Imperial of itself, it asks no loan 
Of subject virtue's smock to drape it roj^aL 
As fen-born vapors seem to nest the stars, 
Yet far below them do but thatch the world 
When they look down, the vassal qualities 
May lift no touch to love, that yet must wear. 
To earth's unvantaged eyes, their reek and hue. ^ 

Pyrr. Aerial love is but an earthling still. 
It must come down for food or mortal die, 
And what but virtues feed it? 

Bia. Nay, you speak 

Of a fair, lesser thing, — a grace not lit 
From thurible in uncreated Hand, 
But coaxed from clay to a persuaded life. 
Garbed as the days, — patched, plastered, hung with dear 
Possessive vanities, it serves to make 
Contentment's bed, and cook a patient meal 
On comfort's hearth, — even snuggles in the void 
That else might ache, sings low, and makes 
Companioned feet tread bravely to the grave. 
It has a thousand names, but never one 
Is love. Be thine that white, ungendered spark. 
And naught can feed it, naught can make it less. 
Virtue and vice, nobility and shame. 
Are rags that drop away, while you sweep on, 
Stripped as a flame, with arms about your star. 

[Pyrrha is silent. Both start at sound of a noise on the 
water] 

Pyrr. What sound is that? 

Bia. The rowers are returning. 



A SON OF HERMES 197 

Pyrr. So quietly? 

Bia. [Goes to door and closes it] 

The world shall not come in 
On me and you. Be mine this broken hour, 
And Hieron may flute through after-time 
At secret doors where you lock up your favors. 
For you will go with him. 

Pyrr. A prophet too? 

Bia. You'll make his home, but I shall come and go 
The unseen master there. 

Pyrr. Now for the vision! 

Bia. You'll watch your door, — the unheard step is 
mine, — 
And rock the babe born of a dream of me. 
And I, far-wandered, lost unto myself, 
Shall never lose you, Pyrrha. As the light 
Wrapping the wave reveals its silver dance, 
My being shall exult through shade and wear 
The chlamys of your gleam. Your voice behind 
The wind shall draw me lover-lipped to meet 
Adventure's breath. You'll lie upon the hush 
That girdles evening, — be the thrill within 
The throstle's note, and silence when 
His song is done. 

Pyrr. Nay, it will speak of Phania, 

Of Sybaris, 

Bia. Ay, and a hundred more 
In whom I've sought for thee, my Pyrrha, always thee! 
'Twill speak of them as statues speak of shards 
About their feet, — the sculptor's broken dreams 
That made the perfect one. 

[The ship rocks] 

Pyrr. We're moving! 

Bia. Yes, 

You know, — to safer waters. Listen, Pyrrha, 
To me — to me! 



198 ASONOFHERMES 



Pyrr. Those sounds- 



Bia. [Kneels] Hear me! My head 
I'll votive lay till you may set your feet 
Like tangled roses in my curls 

[Pyrrha springs toward the door, but Blades is before her. 
The noises increase. Groans, blows, shouts] 

Pyrr. Aside ! 

I'll pass! 

Bia. O, save our bones. I am the stronger. 
You know 't. 

Pyrr. You! I'll wind you like a thread! 

Bia. You didn't. 

Pyrr. Didn't . . . 

Bia. When we wrestled. 

Pyrr. When. . . . 

Oh, then! My arm was lame. Come, I will pass! 

Bia. Nay, 'twas your heart that spared me ! 

Pyrr. Ay, like this! 

[Throws him aside. He staggers against the wall for sup- 
port. She opens door. Two soldiers in armor silently 
oppose spears to her passage. She slowly closes the 
door] 

Pyrr. Where are we going? 

Bia. You love me. What an arm! 

'Twas never lame! 

Pyrr. Come ! Tell me what's our port, 
Then I shall know one place we do not go. 

Bia. Tut, love! Pry into men's affairs.'^ 
Be calm 

Pyrr. What does this mean? [Advancing] I'll know! 

Bia. [Retreating] You shall! It means 
"The last lie wins." We go to harbor. 

Pyrr. Ah! . . . 

Those rowers . . . 



ASONOFHERMES 199 

Bia. Faithful and fleet as ever bore 

An Athenian general home. They came upon 
Your signal 

Pyrr. Mine? 

Bia. They lay at watch, not Phernes. 
Look on those lights! O, trinal star, set high 
By my beloved ! My honor's flaming hedge 



Pyrr. You fly, 

But in a net! The Spartans heard those shouts. 
They are in chase — you'll see 

Bia. They're unprepared. 

The captains off their ships, the guards in doubt. 
And oarsmen half asleep. But let them come 
Far as they dare, and if they dare too far 
From Persia's shelter, the Athenian fleet 
Will close like jaws about them. 

Pyrr. [Sits, with sudden hopelessness] You have won. 
My lord. 

Bia. I have. 

Pyrr. What will you do with me? 

Bia. I'll wed thee, sweet. 

Pyrr. I'll not 

Bia. Yes, love, you will. 

There is a dagger hangs in Phelas' shop. 
Shall be your bridal gift. A prized blade 
Of coppered gold, hued like a battle morning. 
Smooth-cheeked as Artemis, although inlaid 
With pictured tale. A captured Amazon, 
Wrought palely in alloy, — a silvered fear 
On th' bronzen flush of courage, — bows before 
Her conqueror, a knight who gently bends 
As I do now 

Pyrr. [Thrusting him off] No! Never! I'll not trust 
Your dolphin nature ! Long as fish have fins 
You'll sport in every sea! Go — go to Phania! 



200 ASONOFHERMES 

Bia. [Turns angrily from her] Ay, by my gods that I 
have found again, 
I shall wed none but an Athenian maid! 

[Pyrrha swoons. He rushes to her] 
Her heart is still. O, curse my double-tongue! 
She's dead — she's dead! She takes the Spartan way — 
To die, not yield ! Oh, Pyrrha, Pyrrha, Pyrrha ! 

[Rushes about distractedly] 
I will not live! I'll leap into the sea! 

Pyrr. [On her elbow, as he reaches door] 
You might catch cold. 

[He stares at her. She sits up] 
Is this your grace in love? 
Your pictured ease, with no dissuasive line.'^ 

Bia. O, Pyrrha, peace ! Let us be done with cheat 
And mockery! 

Pyrr. [Rising] My heart on that, my lord ! 

Bia, Own thou art mine! My world when sunsets die! 
My breath of meadows lying past the moon! 
Compassionate this earth, and in my soul 
Fix thee its centre. Say thou 'It come ! 

Pyrr. My lord, 

Could I be sure 

Bia. Ah, Pyrrha, there's no light 

Falls from thine eye that does not sway me like 
A bee in rose wind-shaken. I am thine. 
There'll be no battle, but a nuptial feast 
With three great armies for our brothered guests. 
Your land and mine are one. Give me your hand. 

Pyrr. I will. For Sparta's sake. 

Bia. And love's! 

Pyrr. [Giving her hand] And love's. 

[Curtain] 



ACT V 

Scene: The garden of Pelagon, as in first act. Enter 
youths and maidens dancing about Pyrrha and Biades. 
They sing: 

Hymen, god of bended knees, 

Who would gain to thee must lose! 

Take from us thy merry fees, 

Though our fairest thou dost choose, — 

Pyrrha and our Biades ! 

Fling the garland and the wreath! 

Roses, roses consecrate, 
That upgive their happy breath 

In an ardor 'neath our feet, 
Kissing fortune in their death ! 

Sparta 's won, and Athens' wed! 

Shyest hours of midnight, bring 
Charm and blessing for the bed 

Whence a fairer Greece shall spring 
And her golden peace be bred! 

[They dance off, lower right, as Pelagon and Stesilaus 

enter middle left] 
Pel. Ha, neatly sung! By Hermes, they have made 
A tickling in my sandals. 

Ste. Frivol! 

Pel. Eh? 

Nay, youth must wind his horn 

Ste, Not in my ears! 

201 



202 ASONOFHERMES 

Pel. Though he never come to the hunt. But Biades 
Has run the chase, and 's bravely home again, 
The game in pack. 

Ste. Too noble game for him ! 
My girl ! That I should ever play the sire 
To a fop of Athens! 

Pel. If the burn's so raw, 

You've secret salve for it. 

Ste. Yes. 'Tis not my blood 

That so forgets its source! 

Pel. Sh! Stesilaus! 

A little butter on the tongue, my friend, 
Does no man harm. 

Ste. Butter a hackle, not 

My tongue! If I'm so rubbed, I'll rasp the winds 
Till they sprout ears. Don't *'sh" me, Pelagon. 
I'll muffle in no corners. 

Pel. Hist, I say— — 

Ste. Don't zizz into my beard ! We are not curs 
To nose and smell in council! 

Pel. Ruin's on us! 

You will be heard 

[Enter Menas, upper right] 

Menas. Joy to the noble fathers! 

Sweet saviors of our city ! 

Ste. Sweet ! 

Menas. What says 

Our Stesilaus? 

Pel. Ahem ! The Spartan joy 

Is ever dumb. But see him stirred to heart 
That by a gift from out his very life, 
His dearest daughter, peace is home in Athens, 
And 's forced no more to camp and cadge and beg 
At our shut gates. Yet it goes hard to part 
Wi' the fairest branch on 's tree. 



ASONOF HERMES 203 

Menas. In Biades 

He finds a treasured son. 

Ste. By a mermaid's shoes, 

A precious son! 

Menas. How, sir? 

Pel. Indeed, indeed, 

A jewel of a son ! Will you, friend Menas, 
Float with the senators, and bring to shore 
Report of how they drift, — what currents favor 
And what now counter us? 

Menas. I'll go, my lords, 

To hear the latest honor they conclude 
Best caps your fame, and bring it in a word. [Exit Menas] 

Ste. I had two minds to throw the truth in 's face 
And see him strangle on it. 

Pel. Friend, wouldst make 

My old knees creak to earth? I sue to you 
Be soft as prudence. Shall we now be false 
To our dearly tended hope — united Greece? 
Now when the fact is on us, and our dream 
Walks in the day? I beg you clear your heart 
Of selfish fire that eats the very pattern 
Of love's new world. It is ungraced, perverse 
As altar flame that would devour the shrine 
'Twas lit to honor. 

Ste. Think of Greece? What's Greece, 
When my own daughter pairs with 

Pel. Nay, but mine. 

When you are bitterest set, say to yourself 
She's of my loins, and when more softly taken. 
Then call her yours. But openly be constant 
To a father's right in her, and proudly sire 
Her honors. And 's for Biades, he's but 
A brocket yet, his antlers barely bossed. 
My oath upon it, your reshaping hand 



204 ASONOFHERMES 

Firm-cupped about his overweening spring, 
Will be a second cradle where he'll grow 
Fair to your fashion. Think on that. 

Ste. I will. 

There's comfort. Ay, so, so. The terms of peace 
Make him a Spartan. Pyrrha stood with me 
Stout-willed on that. 

Pel. Then whist! You trust your wife? 

Ste. You speak to Stesilaus. 

Pel. Eh, I know 

You've her in hand. My Sachinessa now — [Sighs] 
But she loves Phania best. That locks her tongue. 
And, friend, do you not see the high all-ruling Will 
Has moved behind our own? 

Ste. I think it so. 

Our aim achieves its heaven, though we smart 
Beneath it. To the outer glozing fame 
That now attires us splendent, we may add 
Inmost applause. When we exchanged our babes, 
'Twas for this end and day, and had we held 
To our first intent and taken our own again. 
Our hope had died unfruitive. 'Twas there 
That deity came in and shifted us 
To th' true sybillic course. 

Pel. Who dares say else? 

We'll wear the issue as a sacred robe 
Fallen on us from Olympus. 

Ste. Which our wisdom 

Fits comely to us. Forget it not, such gift 
Had been withheld from minds too poor to be 
The heirs of Zeus. 

Pel. But if the clay-eyed mob, 
Whose pottage traflSc up Olympian paths 
Blocks commerce godly and invisible 

Ste. Tush, cut the string, if you have aught in bag. 



A SON OF HERMES 205 

Pel. Why, I would say if some of grosser sight 
Than our two selves, should fumble on our secret 
That Pyrrha is Athens born 

Ste. Nay, put your fears 

In pocket. It shall not be known. 

[Enter Blades] 

Bia. Ha, nunky! 

Where is my happy father.^ [Sees Stesilavs] 

A suit, my lord! 
I've Pyrrha's leave to make our home in Athens 
If thou wilt bless our dwelling. Crave thy grace 
For sake of her in whom thy pride best flowers! 
Here she'll o'erlay all Spartan crudity 
With suavest bloom, and take e'en native place 
Where Athens' love would set her. 

Ste. Never, sir! [Exit, middle left] 

Bia. The gray fox snaps. Ho, but I'll draw his teeth, 
And he shall yelp for 't too! 

Pel. Shame, sir! Not give 

The road to him.'^ The father of your bride? 

Bia. I will when she's his daughter. 

Pel. What! What, boy? 

Bia. I say when she's his daughter. Let that in 
At your good ear, and in the t'other one 
I'll call you father. 

Pel. Ruin! It's come! 

Bia. Who thinks 

I'd make that Spartan grunt my father, knows 
Not me! What? Set that boding beard at head 
Of my Athenian house? Or go to Sparta 
To hut me where I would not ask a stall 
For a borrowed horse? 

Pel. But 

Bia. Scratch my helpless throat 

With bread a pig would stick at? Swallow brew 



206 ASONOFHERMES 

Of salt and soot? And chafe my pumiced skin 
With itching Hnsey? — or an untanned hide, 
As man were still the beast that wore it? 

Pel. Peace, 

My son 

Bia. Say grace for leeks and goose-foot? 

Pel. But— 



Bia. Though Eros pinned me head and foot with shafts, 
I've saved my eyes, bless my united wits. 
And know the high-road! I'll not lose me on 
A pig- trail to a sty. 

Pel. But if these Spartans hear 

They'll sack the city! Zeus deliver us! 
We're lost! we're lost! Oh, Biades! 

Bia. [Calm] Talk in a muff, good father Pelagon, 
Or we indeed are lost. 

Pel. You'll keep the secret? 

Bia. A time. I've plans in seed will make all Sparta 
A garden for my Athens, where her fame 
Shall browse to its tallest. Trust me, Pelagon. 
I'm still a general! 

[Enter, lower right, young men who surround Biades, and 
press him off, singing] 

Gander now must keep with goose! 

Biades, O, Biades, 
Thou shalt ne'er the cord unloose. 

For the mighty god decrees 
He shall hang who dares the noose! 
[Re-enter Stesilaus] 
Ste. He's gone? I took 
My anger off where it might safely blow. 
This path brushed clear by Heaven must not be closed 
By our stumbling selves. The widgeon! He would fly 
Above the eagle, but I'll snip his feathers. 
Give me good time! He'd live in Athens, ha! 



I 



ASONOFHERMES 207 

And swore on Hera's altar he would be 
A son of Sparta! 

Pel. Nay, I noted, sir, 

That Sparta was not named in 's oath. 

Ste. What now? 

Pel. Naught, naught, my friend! Yet he but swore to 
make 
The land of Pyrrha his. 

Ste. And what meant that 

But Sparta? If his warm wooer's oath must cool, 
We've winters that will do it. 

Pel. Caution's best. 

Slow-mare will get you home. 

Ste. A year or two 

Of good black bread, and free winds on his skin 
Will take the maiden from his cheeks and set 
A true man's beard there. Tush! I thought that Fate, 
Granting my main desire, gave me this plague, 
Which, with the rest, now proves my life has pleased 
High arbiters. You're silent, Pelagon. 

Pel. No, no! Yes, yes! I think so. 'Tis indeed! 

Ste. Come, come, my friend ! We will go forth and meet 
The occasion as a guest, bethinking us 
We w^alk between mankind and deity. 

[They start out and are met by Alcanor and Phania who 
fall before them] 

Pha. [Kneeling to Stesilaus] Your blessing, father' 

Ale. [At Pelagon' s feet] Blessing, dearest father! 

Pel. What, what! 

Pha. [To Stesilaus] Forgive your child! 

Ale. The priest 

Ste. My child? 

Ale. The priest has made us one. 

Pel. What priest? Who dared 

Defile the altar with such rite? 



208 ASONOFHERMES 

Ale. [Rising] Defile? 

Though you're my Phania's father, you shall cast 
No stain upon that holy ceremony 
Whose odor yet is round us. Sir, the priest 
Has blessed us. Do you as you please. Come, Phania! 
Come, sweet! We'll smile at this. Though a father's 

curse 
Bethorn our way, a gentler heaven will drop 
Its soft approval where thy feet must pass. [Going] 

Pel. Speak, Stesilaus ! Stop your wretched son ! 

Ale. Not wretched, sir, while Phania is my own. 
We shall be blest when you, too late, beseech 
Unhearing gods forgive you this! 

Pel. Stay, sir! 

O, miserable boy! 

Pha. No, father, no! 

He's happy in my love as leaf in air. 
As the sea-crystalled fish, as lotos in 
Its pool, — and I — O, sir, my joy has wings, 
And tho' I love you dear and daughterly, — 
Who gave me life, — your anger has no weight 
To keep my feet on earth. Like twirling lark 
Too high for storm to reach, I dance above 
Displeasure's cloud. [Trips off with Alcanor] 

Pel. Sweet wretches! Here's a turn! 
My little Phania! Friend, what shall we do? 

Ste. Again the finger of the gods. 

Pel. The gods 

To limbo! I will save my daughter! 

Ste. Yours? 

Pel. Yea, by each hour of prattle at my knee! 
By all my care that's been her constant nurse. 
And every joy that from devotion sprang 
To meet me like a flower as she grew. 
She's mine, mine, mine! Oh, Stesilaus, oh, 



ASONOFHERMES 209 

TMiosever she may be, I love the chick, 
And she shall not be damned! 

[Enter, upper left, Sachinessa and Archippe] 

Ste. Here's a reproach 

Comes with a dual mouth. If we show doubt. 
They'll put us under pestle. Rally, sir! 

Sac. [To Archippe] Are you all lump? 
Pick up your courage. Why! 
The gods are gods by their audacity. 
I'll bring it off. Now, Pelagon? 

Pel. [Who has turned to flee] What, you, 
My love? 

Sac. Such heavy news ! Enough to make 
The gods no more co-venture with a world 
Augmented so! 

Pel. What, Sachinessa, what? 

Sac. Our Phania's married to Alcanor. 

Pel. Eh? 

Sac. Now are you pleased? Now is your cruelty 
Full-fed, or must it glut again? 

Pel. My sweet 

Sac. You'll meddle with high Zeus! Have you enough? 

Pel. Oh, Sachinessa! 

Sac. Brother and sister bound 

In an abhorrent union that will drive 
Their shades forever from Elysian ground! 
Nay, even Hades will make fast her gates 
'Gainst such offenders, innocently vile! 
Archippe, speak to that unbending man. 
Half author of this shame! I'd thin his beard 
If Heaven had mocked me with his long, smug face 
For husband ! Ugh ! The whiskered horse ! 

Arc. Dumb, sir? 

You've no defence? — no master argument 
To prove your wisdom's never off the road 



210 A SON OF HERMES 

To Zeus' gate? Not once in all your life, 
Although your daughter's to her brother wedded? 

Ste. 'Tis well. I can not doubt the gods. 
[They stare at him] 

Arc. Her brother born? 

So foul a hap? 

Ste. A thing too dread in thought. 
And in the act unutterable if Zeus 
Be unconcerned in it. Therefore believe 
His hand here moves, and holy majesty 
O'errules the mortal scruple, so dividing 
This horror from its kind. May it not be 
The blood of Stesilaus hath in 'ts flow 
A heavenly tinct that makes it not a sin, 
But rather virtue, to keep pure the stream 
From baser founts? They've done no more than kings 
And gods before them. 

Sac. Pelagon, your croak! 

Pel. I take a lower ground, my dearest dove. 
All Athens knows me modest 

Sac. Ay to that! 

Can blush as deep as any crow that flies! 

Pel. Now, now! From first to last I've held it truth 
That breeding scantles birth, and on that count 
Make Phania our daughter. 

Sac. Oh, you do? 

Pel. I stand on this, that training is the man, 
Or woman, let us say, and not the blood 
We buried with our fathers. So these two 
Mate not ancestrally, but in their lives 
That distantly upbred have not between them 
A structural thread to bind them of one house. 

Sac. What men are these? 

Arc. I am no more afraid 

Of him I thought w^as Stesilaus. 



A SON OF HERMES 211 



Ste. Listen, 

You women. Though we are thus righted- 



Sac. Humph! 

Ste. In man's and Heaven's eye, we yet will bow 
To your own wish in this. As once we gave 
Your sighs the right of way, we now will ease 
This second woe by taking swiftest means 
To part this clucking pair. 

Sac. You'll yield to us? 

Arc. How like you, Sachinessa, this high place 
Above the gods? 

Sac. They shall be parted? 

Ste. Ay, 

We do consent. 

*Srtc. Nay, you shall please yourselves. 
For my own part, I will not break their bonds 
And set their hearts a-bleeding. 

Arc. No, nor I. 

Ste. How now, vapidity? 

Arc. I mean, my lord, 

You have convinced me, and this marriage bond 
Shall be as Zeus has made it. 

Sac. Pelagon, 

Your reason captures mine, and I repent 
My mockery. This strange event 's no more 
Uncouth, now j^ou have pried the way for me 
To wisdom's bed of truth. I clearly see 
That man and woman of one mother born 
May be no kin. The marriage shall stand. 

Pel. In name of Zeus! 

Arc. Yes, in his name. 

Ste. Nay, wife, 
We know your simple heart, and read its horror 
Through this pretence so suddenly clapped on. 
We shall reject a forced and sad submission 



212 ASONOFHERMES 

Pel. Ay, ay, we shall! I'll act at once, and stop 
Their kisses, riveting a bond unblessed 

Sac. Unblessed? 

Pel. My golden joy, I speak your thought 

Not mine. 

[A clamor in street] 

Ste. They come for us. 

Pel. I hear my name. 

We'll out and greet them. 

Ste. No, my friend. 

Let them come in unnoted. 

Pel. Ay, we'll sit 

Withdrawn, in gentle argument. Here's shade. 

[They go aside. Enter Lysander, Agis, Creon, Menas, and 
a score of Spartans and Athenians] 

Lys. Is Stesilaus here? We must be heard. 

Arc, He's here. 

Menas. And Pelagon! Where's Pelagon? 

Sac. His good ear's toward, sir. 

Pel. [Unable to keep aside] Did I not hear 
My name? 

Sac. Why, so I said. 

Agis. [Advancing to Stesilaus] My lord, we come 

Ste. What haste, good Agis? Goes the world so fast? 

Agis. As fast as Fate can drive it, and you, my lord. 
Are under foot. 

Pel. [Who has been listening to Menas] 
You hear it, Stesilaus ! 
Athens is ashes ! We're betrayed, betrayed ! 

[Blades, Pyrrha, Phania, Alcanor, and their companions 
swarm in, lower right] 

Ste. Silence, and let us hear! Now, Agis, speak. 

Agis. And grieve that 'tis my part. The Spartans know 
Your treachery 



A SON OF HERMES 213 

Ste. Who dares give such a name 

To deed of mine? 

Agis. Denial comes too far 

Behind the proof, my lord. 

Ste. The proof? What proof? 

Lys. 'Tis known to all. The very curb cries out 
That Pyrrha is Athenian born, the child 
Of Pelagon. 

Pyrr. Oh, Zeus! 

Bia. Bear up, my Pyrrha! 

Agis. Ay, Athens weds with Athens, and on that 
You build the peace of Sparta! A bold deceit 
Of yours and Pelagon's, whereby we're sold 
To a foeman's pleasure ! 

A Spartan. Though the heart of Athens 

Be in the knot that binds your traitorous bargain, 
We'll cut it through! 

Agis. Will you deny you changed 

Your babes in cradle? 

[Silence] 

Bia. Pray you, who revealed 

This ancient secret? 

Menas. Creon came 

Bia. Ah, Creon! 

Menas. Before the senate, then in seat to unfold 
From rivalrous invention, topless honors 
For these two lords, whose guilt had long devoured 
Such labor's root and reason. 

Bia. Creon came? 

Menas. And bared the tale, made his by accident, 
And swore you knew it too, — that Pyrrha there 
Is Pelagon's daughter, and Phania is the child 
Of Spartan Stesilaus. 

Pha. Oh, oh, oh! 

Ale. A rope for me then! 



214 ASONOFHERMES 

Cre. \To Blades] Sir, I did not speak, 

But trusted all to you, until the secret 
Laid night on Phania's innocence and grew 
Too foul to keep. 

Pyrr. You knew this, Biades? 

Bia. And knew you would forgive! 

Pyrr. This was the spring 

Of all your oaths ! In my espoused hand 
You'd lay my country's peace, knowing her name 
Was Attica! This was your proof of love. 
The oiled wedge that let you in my heart! 
False in the trothal moment that should make 
The foulest for an instant pure ! 

Bia. But hear 

Pyrr. Oh, in that hour which women wrap in rose 
And hide where thoughts like guardian doves may go, 
You set a cautel touching it with death 
That leaves me treasureless ! 

Bia. My Pyrrha, 

Pyrr. Not yours ! 

Bia. Howe'er 'twas done, I won you ! 

Pyrr. Won a Spartan! 

Now keep the shadow. As an Athenian maid 
I do renounce you! [Escapes him] 

Bia. Ah! Zeus loves the dice. 

He's always at the game. But who'd have thought 
This throw would be against me.-^ Hear me, sweet! 

[To Stesilaiis] 
Dear father, speak to her. She'll heed your voice. 
Your judgment ripe, and words set out like cups 
With wisdom's honey. 

Pel. [Awake to fathership] Ay, my son, I will ! 

Bia. Not you, in name of hope ! [Folloivs Pyrrha] 

Ale. Monsters of fatherhood, how dare you show 
Your faces in this sun? Go seek some cave 



4 



ASONOFHERMES 215 

Whose darkest den will not betray a shame 

Of its own hue! No, Phania, do not cling 

To my unwilling breast that now must be 

A hedge of swords to your bird bosom. [Holds her tightly] 

Pha. Oh! 

Cre. Withdraw your hand, proud Spartan ! 

^^<^' I will protect 

My sister, sir, from any lord of x\thens ! 

Sac. Look, Pelagon, — and Stesilaus, — here! 
Look on this warbling joy hatched tenderly 
In nest of your conceit, which you've kept warm 
Forgetting you had hearts where love bechid 
Sat in unfeathered cold. If you are fathers, 
Drink of their ecstasy till every vein 
Applauds it! 

Lys. Pray you, peace! The Senators! 

[Enter Amentor and other Senators] 

Ste. What's your demand? 

Amen. Your hfe. Lord Stesilaus. 

And that of Pelagon, in Athens' name. 

Pel. My life.^ 

Amen. Not less will still this wind and save 
Our homes from undefended sack. They've seized 
The citadel 

Bia. Then on my armor! Wife 

May whistle when the bugle calls ! 

Amen. Stay, sir! 

The Spartans are in power, and any check 
Means slaughter. There's no help. The Persian fleet 
Has sailed. The Athenians drop their useless arms 
And follow at command, knowing no way 
To win but by a bloodless yielding. 

Bia. Yield! 

Amen. Sir, we must grant the Spartans these two lives, 
Whereon they'll strike no further. So they swear. 



216 ASONOFHERMES 

Sac. [ToPelagon] This is your downy Peace wooed from 
the clouds 
To hover over Athens! Save the name! 
She's from a briar-patch, not Heaven! Her wings 
Are full of burrs ! 

Bia. [Holding Pelagon] Stand to! A scuttled ship 
Has no choice deck. There's nothing to be saved 
But dignity. 

Pel. Nay, that's for Stesilaus! [Breaking away] 
My life, my life! 

[Noise mounts without. The wall is broken through, rear, 
and the breach reveals the street filled with angry Spartans] 
Amen. Peace! 

Qir. Give us Stesilaus ! 

Voices. And Pelagon! The traitors! Give them up! 
Amen. You see them. There they stand. 
[Misses Pelagon] 

Where's Pelagon? 

Voices. We have him here! Bring Stesilaus! 

Arc. Hold! 

I am Archippe. Let me speak. 

Voices. No mercy! 

Arc. I ask none, friends. The wife of Stesilaus 
Is not so much in 's debt she owes him aught 
On mercy's score. 

Gir. Then speak. 

jirc. Is Philon here? 

The reverend priest? 

Voices. He comes! Make way! He's here I 
[Philon comes out] 

Philon. Speak first, Archippe. I'll follow you. 

j^j.(. My friends 

I'm such a one as you do most contemn, — 

A woman disobedient to her lord. 

But if you judgment give upon that point, 



I 



ASONOFHERMES 217 

Remember that my lord is Stesilaus. 

When this my daughter here, — yes, Pyrrha, she, — 

Child of my nurturing blood, 

Voices. What? What? Your child? 

Amen. Silence! Speak on, Archippe. 

Arc. When she lay 
A morsel cradled, two months' breath in her. 
Came he, the father, swearing she must go 
To Sachinessa's breast, and I must take 
Her Phania to my own, — thereby to serve 
In some occulted way the future good 
Of Greece. And all the mercy won from him 
Was leave to journey w^th my child to Athens 

Sac. But I was not so meek! By Pallas, no! 
What — who — was Pelagon, to rob my bosom 
Of Hera's gift? WTio made him greater than 
The gods? 'Tis but a girl, he said, to me, 
A mother! I went to Philon then, the priest 
Whom Athens honors, and by holy counsel. 
We did not change our babes, but let our deed 
Wear face that pleased them, with a heart our own, 
And home Archippe went with Pj^rrha safe. 
While I in Athens held my Phania close, 
And they, fond sires, who knew no difference 
Between a girl and girl, hugged their deep plan 
And built the phantom of united Greece 
Upon it. 

Arc. If those ghostly towers, now fallen. 
May rise again, it is our act, my lords. 
Provides them nature's base, and not a dream's. 
Condemn us, if you will, as erring wives. 
But as true mothers give us softer justice. 
And if there's scale or balance that can hold 
Such torturous weight, lay on it all the pain 
Of lonely years that saw me turn my face 



£18 A SON OF HERMES 

From my loved daughter, lest this man of rock 
Should know her mine and his. 

Pyrr. Your own, your own, 

My mother! 

Ste. So you slip me, dame, 

And Pyrrha goes with you. But Blades 
Is under thumb by this same turn. He now 
Must know himself a Spartan, and shall keep 
My terms. 

Arc, Make them full easy. You shall lay 
No marring hand upon our children's joy 
As fell on mine. 

Bia. O, sue for me, Archippe! 

Give me my bride! Whatever be her race, 
Her home is in my arms! 

Arc. Forgive him, Pyrrha. 

Not for his pleading, but for love I know 
You bear him. 

[Pyrrha permits Blades to embrace her] 

Ale. [To Phania] Sweet, we know our heaven by 
Those moments in a hell. 

Amen. Here's feast enough! 

Bia. But poor old Creon in this rain of porridge 
Starves for a spoon. 

Cre. And you, perforce, take one 

Of Spartan make. 

Bia. I'm caught. But in love's lap. 
I'll swallow Sparta for so dear a bed. 

Menas. And you need fear no distaff tyranny. 
My lord. There you are safe. Although your bride 
Be Hera-limbed, you've proved yourself her Zeus 
In open match. 

Cre. How if her moved heart 

Crept to her arm and slipped the victory 
Unwon to love? 

[Biades is suddenly embarrassed] 






A SON OF HERMES 219 

Pyrr. [With a caress of assurance] 
If that were so, my lords, 
My pride would harbor his, and none should know 
My secret. 

Ste. Senators, and men of Athens, 
Art dumb when justice waits on you for voice? 
What censure have you for these rebel wives, 
And this unsainted priest? 

Amen. [To Philon] You counselled them 
To their deceit? 

Philon. I did. 

Amen. You've no defence? 

Philon. I need none. 

Ste. Ha! 

Philon. Whoso reveres the gods 

Draws of their strength in every mortal inch, 
And in this act I did them reverence. 
Standing between their wish and meddling wits 
Of these presumptive men. But pardon them. 
For it is shame enough to 've thought to make 
A frislet of their own shake like the locks 
Of cloud-haired Zeus. For me, my hand is on 
My altar, and I fear no fall. 

Amen. No more. 

Good Philon. 

Philon. Ay, a word. This morning, sir, 
I blessed the couple here, knowing them free 
Of kindred blood, — Alcanor and his Phania. 
The strands are doubly woven that now bind 
Sparta and Athens. Pyrrha and Blades 
Were first to link them one, and now this pair 
Unites them o'er. 

Amen. You hear, my Spartan friends. 

What say you? Is it peace? 

Spartans. Peace be to Athens! 



220 ASONOFHERMES 

Amen. And peace to Sparta! Hearts and altars guard 
it! 
Go, citizens! See that the chariots 
Glow with new garlands for this double bridal. 
And let the noble wives of these proud lords 
Co-queen festivity. All shall rejoice 
Save this convicted pair,— you, Pelagon, 
And Stesilaus. You we prison here, 
Your own sole company, nor shall you speak 
Save in a rhyme now dim with little use, 
But shall be better known from this day forth 
With polish you shall give it. Hear it, sirs: 

The man who would his own pie hake 
Must from his wife ten fingers take. 



[Curtain falls and rises. Pelagon and Stesilaus are dis- 
covered, their backs to each other, the only occupants of 
the garden. Through the breach in the wall the festal 
procession is seen passing. Curtain] 



KIDMIR 

A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS 



CHARACTERS 

OSWALD, Earl of Chjffe 

BERTRAND, sometime VAIRDELAN, his son 

CHARILUS, a Greek 

ARDIA, his daughter 

BIONDEL and VIGARD, sons of Charilus 

BANISSAT, Prince of Avesta 

PRINCE FREDERICK 

BERENICE, his daughter 

GAIN A, serving-woman to Ardia 

Bx\RCA, servant to Charilus 

RAMUNIN, a headsman 

SEVEN MAIDENS, /nen^5 of Ardia 

Followers of Banissat, soldiers of Oswald, nobles, wedding-guests, 

dancers, guards, &c. 

Time: During the later Crusades 

Place: The southern coast of Asia Minor 



1 



ACT I 

Scene: A hall in the castle of Charilus on the heights of 
Kidmir. The open rear, through which is seen a sun- 
set sky, leads to a parapet overlooking the city of Avesta 
and the coast of Suli. Entrances right and left of para- 
pet. Midway down, right, the door to a chamber. 

Charilus stands on parapet and looks down toward Avesta. 
Barca waits within the hall. 

Char. O, sea-washed city, must the hail of fire 
Crimson thy milky walls, and salt winds strive 
In vain to sweeten ditches dark with blood 
From thy tapped heart? Come, Barca, be my eyes. 
Who climbs the heights? 

[Barca advances and looks over] 
Barca. Lords Vigard and Biondel 
Are on the pass. 

Char. My sons so soon returned! 

No other? 

Barca. Farther down, my lord, I see 
The knight. Sir Vairdelan. 

Char. Then we shall hear 

His sunset song. 

Barca. The stairway through the cliff 
Is closed. Shall I give signal, sir, to hoist 
The upper gate? 

Char. That is my charge henceforth. [Going Left] 

They will be hungered. [Turns to Barca] 

Scant the board in nothing. 

[Exit left] 
[Gaina enters, right, rear, carrying a tray piled with 
candles] 

223 



224 K I D M I R 

Gaina. Thank goodness, Barca, you're where you're 
wanted for once! Help me with these winkers. [Giving 
him candles] My mistress kept me out on the cUffs when 
I ought to 'a' been inside an hour ago doing my honest 
work. I got her in at last, but I had to be round with 
her, poor soul ! I told her what ! 

Barca, [Placing candles] She was watching for her 
brothers? 

Gaina. [Puts tray down] Brothers! It was a sight of 
that singing knight she wanted. He went down the pass 
this morning and she has gone about all day like a bird 
with a sore throat. 

Barca. God gave her eyes, and Sir Vairdelan is good to 
see. When I look at him I feel somehow as if the sun 
were just up and everybody had another chance. 

Gaina. A man who lets his sword rust at home while 
he goes about tootle-de-rooling on a flute ! And she could 
be the princess of Avesta if she'd look in the right place. 
Well, if she had my eyes! 

Barca. What! You would have your mistress marry 
Banissat? An unbeliever? 

Gaina. A prince is a prince, — and I'd say the same if 
my mistress were my own daughter. 

Barca. And you a Christian! 

Gaina. A Christian of Corinth, I'd have you know. 
There are Christians and Christians, please you! And 
for my mistress, dear heart, it would take more than 
marrying a prince to send her to — to 

Barca. Let it out. 

Gaina. Hell, then, — if you want to bite ginger. And 
who but Banissat can stand between her father and that 
English Oswald — who is just plain devil and not an Eng- 
lishman at all 

Barca. Devil? A knight of the Cross leading the army 
of the Lord to Jerusalem. 



K I D M I R 225 

Gaina. Nobody but the devil, I tell you! And I 
wouldn't speak to him if I met him walking with Saint 
Peter, unless he showed me his bare feet with ten good 
toes on 'em. It might be all right for Peter, but a woman 
can't be too careful, and the master took me out of a good 
family in Corinth. And this Vairdelan who is no more a 
knight than I'm a lady — the next time he goes down the 
pass he will lose his way up again, or my head's a goose- 
egg, that's all! 

Barca. Gently, Gaina. You were young once. 

Gaina. Once.'^ I've more hairs than wrinkles yet, which 
some can't say and tell the truth! 

Barca. Tongue in! Here's the master. [Moves right] 

Gaina. My candles! 

[Seizes tray and goes out, right, as Charilus re-enters left] 

Char. [To Barca] Look to the supper. 

[Exit Barca, right. Charilus crosses to parapet and looks 
down] 

Doubt-blown city, rest. 
Sleep on my heart. You shall not bleed for me. 
[Enter Ardia from chamber midway right] 

Ard. Alone, my father? 

Char. Never alone, and yet 

My wish was calling thee. [Sits, and draws her beside him] 

Ard. Ah, not one guard 

About thee? 

Char. The only guard is always near, — 
A fearless heart. 

Ard. Then I have none. My heart 

Is made of fears. 

Char. No charm but love will lift 

Our gates of rock. 

Ard. But who knows love from hate 
In days like these? Some foe with friendship's eyes, 
Some secret knife of Oswald's 



226 K I D M I R 

Char. None may tread 

The guarded pass save our knight Vairdelan 
And your two brothers. 

Ard. Vairdelan is late. 

Why went he down? 

Char, Knights true as he, my girl, 
Are never questioned. 

Ard. [Starting] Who are at the gates? 

Char. Your brothers come. 

Ard. So soon? That means good news 

From Banissat. He'll be your strength against 
This mighty Oswald. 

Char. Fair his word may be, 

But I go down the pass. 

Ard. Go down? To meet 

That fiend? 

Char. The man who calls himself my foe. 
But named of God my brother. 

Ard. O, too much 

Thou lovest love! A fiend, I say! 

Char. That name 

Give unto me when I consent to piece 
This spun-out life with breath of babes and gasp 
Of dying mothers. Would you feed these veins. 
Gelid and old, all golden venture done. 
With the warm waste of youth whose saved stream • 
Might bear mankind unto the port of gods? 

Ard. But you — you are my father! 

Char. It is such cries 

Unsettle justice till her shaken scales 
Weigh nations 'gainst a heart. 

Ard. Must I not love you? 

Char. My Ardia, fair as though thou wert not mine. 
Or wert all hers who made gray Corinth young. 
The love that feeds behind a sheltered door 



1 



K I D M I R 227 

Must be unroofed and take its bread of stars 
Ere it may answer to its holy name. 
The heart must build no walls 

Ard. I build them not. 

But find them risen about me. You are here, 
Guardful and best, fending my eyes, — there stands 
My Biondel, — there Vigard brave, — and there. . . . 

Char. And there, my daughter .^^ 

Ard. Hark! 'Tis Vairdelan's voice! 

[Singing heard below] 

O fires that build upon the sea 

Till wave and foam of ye are part, 

And burn in mated ecstasy, 

Ye build again within my heart. 

O clouds that breathe in flame and run 

In linked dreams along the sky 
In me the fire is never done. 

Though Eve's gray hand soon puts ye by. 

Christ be my Hand of Eve upon 

The flame that tireless, fadeless leaps! 

Haste holily, O Mary's moon. 

With dew for fire that never sleeps! 

[Ardia keeps a listening attitude, not heeding the entrance 
of her brothers who come on left] 

Char. Well, sons? 

Bion. Ay, well ! That is the word we bring. 
Avesta's prince, the gracious Banissat, 
Is now your sworn defender. 

Ard.. [Turning] And asks no price? 

Bion. No more than your fair self, my sister. 

Vig. [As Ardia stands silent] You doubt? 

'Tis true. He'll make you princess! 



228 K I D M I R 

Ard. He is old 

Bion. What call you old? He's in the fairest top 
Of manhood. 

Vig. Old! 

Ard. And cannot sing. » . . 

Vig. Not sing! 

Ard. What need have we of him? Can Oswald scale 
These rock-barred heights? 

Vig. Starvation can. 

Ard. We've food 

Will last three harvest moons. 

Bion. And Oswald camps 

Where plain and sea will feed ten thousand men 
As many years. 

Vig. While here our skeletons 
With bleached grin may watch the feast below! 

Ard. To starve ... is that so terrible? 'Tis but 
One way of dying. 

Vig. Dying? 

Char. Say no more. 

The morrow's dawn shall light my way to Oswald. 

Bion. You'll go to him? Then death! 

Vig. [To Ardia] See what you do? 

Ard. Forgive me. [Runs to her father and clings to him] 
Now! Bind me to Banissat. 

Char. Nay, thou art free. 

Bion. [To Ardia] Our lives shall thank you. 

Vig. Thanks? 

You speak her part. 

[Ardia leaves her father and moves to edge of parapet] 

Bion. [Following her] Dost know a better way? 

Ard. I pray you, leave me. 

Vig. Princess of Avesta! 

Ard. Your supper waits. 

Vig. [Starting right] Come, brother! 



K I D M I R 229 

Char. Though I've supped, 

I'll sit with you, my sons. Discourse is ever 
The best dish at the board. 

Bion. We thank you, sir. 

{Exeunt Biondel, Vigard, ChariluSy right] 

Ard. And am I wooed and won? Dreams of a dream, 

Where are ye now? A lover with no song. 

No carols stealing sweetness from the moon; 
No trembling hand to drop a morning rose 
Where I may walk. 

[Takes a rose from her bosom and casts it away] 
No rose .... no Vairdelan! 
[Re-enter Gaina] 

Gaina. Here, mistress? Dearie dear, a-weeping? 

Ard. No. 

Gaina. Say you were, 'twere a better sight than this 
fetching of dry sighs. They 'most take the skin of a woe 
that a little tear-water would bring up easy enough. 

Ard. O, Gaina, Gaina, did you see my mother buried? 

Gaina. Ay, 'twas a sweet grave we laid her in over in 
Corinth. You'll never make as pretty a corpse, my dear. 

Ard. Was I there? 

Gaina. Troth, you were, and trouble enough you gave 
me. You wanted to climb into the coflSn and go to sleep 
too, you said. 

Ard. O, had you buried me with her I should not have 
seen this day! 

Gaina. Most like you wouldn't. Come, honey dove, 
come to your room and brighten yourself a bit. There's 
the new veil just begging to be looked at. I'll put it on 
you, and 

Ard. No, I don't want you. [Going, right] 

Gaina. O, ho, I can read his name you do want, and 
not kill a bird for it either. 

Ard. [Turning] Who, magpie? Who? 



230 K I D M I R 

Gaina. Your eyes may save my tongue if they squint 
sou'west. 

Ard. Is he coming? 

Gaina. WTio, my cuckoo? Who? 

[Bertrand enters left. Ardia starts off right] 

Ber. Ardia! 

Ard. [Weakly, pausing at her door] Vairdelan. . . , 

Ber. Will not you stay? 

Ard. I will return. [Exit] 

Ber. Your mistress is not well? 

Gaina. You've eyes, sir. 

Ber. This fear of Oswald 

Gaina. Her trouble's nearer home, sir. 

Ber. Her father 

Gaina. Nay, it wears no beard, though it may in time. 

Ber. What troubles her, dear Gaina? 

Gaina. A man, my lord. 

Ber. A man! 

Gaina. There, don't feel for your sword, for that's at 
home, and I never heard yet of spitting a man with a 
flute, though it may e'en go to the heart of a woman if 
she be young and soft like my mistress. 

Ber. The truth, Gaina! 

Gaina. I can spare it, sir. My master's daughter is so 
in love with you 

Ber. Angels do not love! 

Gaina. That may be. I'm speaking of my mistress, 
"Magpie!" Not meaning you, sir. 

Ber. She can not love me! 

Gaina. That's what I said — at first. A roaming creat- 
ure with only his cloak for shelter, though it's a good 
gentleman's weave, I'll allow, and I know you'll go away 
before her poor heart gets too heavy for carrying. It's 
nigh that now, and before you came it was so light she 
was tripping and chirping till I could 'a' sworn she had no 



K I D M I R 231 

heart at all — just toes and wings. And now, dear soul, — 
but you'll go, sir? You know you'd have to hunt the 
door soon enough if her brothers got a breath of what's 
between you. 

Ber. There's nothing between us ! 

Gaina. A bat could see it by daylight. It's been in 
your eyes all the time. 

Ber. I never meant it! 

Gaina. Shame to you then. You'll go, sir? 

Ber. Yes, yes, yes! 

Gaina. Here's my lady. Now don't tell her you're 
going. Just go. 

Ber. Just ... go. 

Gaina. [At right] Ay, you've got it. 

[Exit Gaina as Ardia re-enters] 

Ard. My brothers are at supper. Will you join them, 
Or do you fast? 

Ber. I fast. 

Ard. A stern religion 

Is yours, my friend. 

Ber. I've chosen it. Ardia, 

You know me for a knight. 

Ard. [Softly] ^\Tio wears no sword. 

Ber. But in the English isle where I was born, 
I was a monk . . . and true. True am I now, 
Save that my cell is what men call the world. 

Ard. Spare speech and me. I know the rest. 

Ber. Your prayers 

Then be my bond that Christ may search my heart 
And find no part not his. 

Ard. No prayer of mine 

Shall fetter youth to bloodless vows. And you 
Look not as one faith-leeched of life. Your cheek 
Is sudden gray, not changeless pale. 'Tis hued 
Like rebel morning pushing back a dawn 



232 K I D M I R 

Too eager for its peace. A monk. Our ways 
Part as our souls. Know you I am to wed 
Prince Banissat? So dumb.^^ 

My father comes! 
[Meets Charilus re-entering and leads him to a seat] 
Our guest was telling me of English days. 
Now you change tongue with him and speak the tale 
You promised yester night. Why does this Oswald, 
This war-mad lord of England, on his way 
To free the holy tomb, forget his path 
And turn his army's strength against a man 
No greater than thyself.'^ 

Char. Yes, you shall know. 

Ard. At last! 

Char. For morning parts us. 

Ard. Oh! Not that! 

Ber. Shall I go in, my lord.f^ 

Char. Nay, Vairdelan. 

I'd have thee hear. Thou thinkest me a man 
Of holy heart. 

Ard. Ah, who does not? 

Char. There's one 

Has cause for doubt. 'Twas I who slew in rage 
Earl Oswald's father. 

Ard. You? These hands? 

Char. These hands, 

Ber. I've heard 'twas so. 

Ard. You've heard? 

Char. 'Tis thirty years 

Since Oswald, with his father, John of Clyffe, 
Marched in Red Giles' crusade. You know of that? 

Ber. My grandsire captained there. 

Char. I served not Christ, 

At least as they, with pillage, fire and rape. 
But there were some among the English youths 



K I D M I R 233 

Who took my heart, and Oswald was my choice 
Of all who camped before the holy gates. 

Ard. That man! 

Char. I, too, was young .... and I was wed. 

Not to my Ardia's mother, but to her 
Whose heart yet boldly beats in my two sons. 
In her strange beauty John of Clyffe found death. 
He sought her, and I slew him. When his blood 
Ran at my feet, I fled, — not from the swords 
Hot on my path, but from that stream of blood. 

Ard. Dear, dear my father! 'Twas a world ago! 

Char. I was not of the many who can kill 
And laugh again, nor yet of hermit-heart, 
But for myself had made a gentle god 
Whom my soul served. 

Ber. I know, my lord, that sweet 

Idolatry, and dream what thou didst suffer 
So shaken from it. 

Char. Far as man knows the world 

I fled the scarlet stream that followed me, 
And on the skyward slope of Himalay, 
Between the white of snows and blue of heaven, 
Saw it no more. 

Ard. [Kissing his hands] O, white, forgiven hands! 

Char. There, near to God as man may come nor lose 
The body's mould, I saw in solvent thought 
That knows not time, a sinless star, — this earth 
That shall be. Back unto my world I came, 
And that my dream might live I lived my dream, 
Servant to love even where the slaves of hate 
Whet sword and knife. 

Ard. 0, true! 

Ber. 'Tis sung of thee! 

Char. Now am I old, but love does not deny me 
One service more. To-morrow I shall go 
To die at Oswald's feet ■ 



234 K I D M I R 

Ber, [Eagerly] You will go down? 

Ard. No, no ! He shall not go ! Prince Banissat 
Will save him! He has promised! 

Ber. [Gazing at Ardia] Banissat? 
So 'twas a bargain. Thou 'rt fair goods to be 
On th' vender's table. [Turns to Charilus] 

You choose well, my lord. 

Ard. What words! 

Ber. I bring a message from th' earl. 

Ard. From Oswald? [Shrinking] You know him? 

Ber. If any man 

May know him, — but I better know his son. 

Ard. The vicious Bertrand? 

Ber. Vicious? 

Ard. O, so foul 

He shuns the day, and walks on moonless nights 
Most like his soul! 

Ber. You speak of Bertrand? 

Ard. x\y! 

More wolfish than his father, — beast whose sword 
Should be his body's part as tigers wear 
Their claws from birth! 

Ber. A bold delusion this! 

Char. She speaks untempered rumor. Slander, sir, 
Is out of breath with sporting Bertrand's name. 
And giveth way to winds that blow it past 
Belief's last border. 

Ard. Slander? 

Ber. What will shake 

These fancies from your heart? 

Ard. A miracle. 

Naught less. 

Ber. Hard terms. [Turns to Charilus] 

I know this Bertrand well. 
If any happy merit in myself 



K I D M I R 235 

Has won your love, bestow the same on him. 
What I may share is his. 

Char. Here's Hving hope! 

Ber. He, like myself, was cloister-bred, and passed 
Peaceful, uncounted days until the death 
Of his three brothers, slain in one mad hour. 
Earl Oswald then bethought him of the son 
So early given to Christ. "I have no heir," 
He said, "but God lacks not for monks." And straight 
With power and gold bought full release for Bertrand, 
Save that release his soul and God might give. 

Char. You make me love his story. 

Ber. True to peace 

Even in the camp of war, he lives withdrawn. 
And so gives Rumor sweep for what she would. 
While in her swollen report the earl conceals 
His monkish son's true nature. 

Char. I'll know this youth! 

Ber. He keeps his tent by day, and steals at night 
To forest glens, his armor but a cloak, 
His sword a flute 

Ard. 0, light from Heaven ! 

Ber. Sometimes 

He farther goes, even far as Kidmir heights. 
And at the feet of Charilus he learns 
A love more true than fane and cloister taught, — 
The love that made the houseless, barefoot Christ, 
With open breast to all unbrothered woe, — 
And now he kneels and of that gentlest love 
Asks pardon. 

Char. Bertrand, son of Oswald, rise. 
There's no forgiving in the sinless star. 

Ber. [Rising , to Ardia] And you? 

Ard, Ah . . . when I've breath! 



236 K I D M I R 

Ber. What I have said, 

My lord, makes way for what is yet to say. 
To-day I waited by Avesta's gate 
For this [talcing out paper] my father's word, response to 

mine 
Sent days ago to him. Here, sir, he says: [Reads] 

"Son of my hope, your words are not more strange to 
me than these I write with my own hand. If Charilus 
will come to Suli Castle, the which my swords have taken 
while you sang and slept, my door shall open to him as 
Kidmir gates have opened unto you. By Christ, I swear 
the treatment that he gave my blood he shall have again 
from me. But if he come not down, then shall I reach 
him through Avesta's heart, and the love he now spurns 
will be cold in my sword. Despatch this, I pray you, 
for I would hasten to Jerusalem, leaving you my con- 
quered princedom, whose head is Hon and whose foot 
is the city of Ramoor. Thine as thy heart speaks, 
Oswald." 

Char. Your father's hand? 

Ber. Doubt flies from it, although 

The vein is alien, sir. It is his hand. 
And, I do think, his heart, wherein, my lord. 
Your gentleness to me, like creeping rain, 
Has moistened love's dry root, whose pent-up bloom 
Is by that nurture freed, and magical 
Now glows before us. 

Char. This I would believe. 

[Starts off right] 
Vigard and Biondel must have this news 
From my slow lips, lest with the sudden truth 
They strike ablaze. They have their mother's fire. 
Albanian Gartha was not one to die 
And leave her sons no part in her wild race. [Exit] 

Ber. You are not Gartha's daughter .^^ 



K I D M I R 237 

Ard. No, my lord. 

Claris of Corinth bore me, and my flame 
Is joy, not anger. O, this miracle 
You've wrought for me! 

Ber. I wrought? 

Ard. 'Tis no less strange 

When God through his bare tool reveals his hand, 
Than when invisible his power stirs 
And makes a chasm in sense. So when you stood 
Before me, Bertrand's self, with yet the voice, 
The eyes, the heart of Vairdelan, I knew 
That was my miracle. O Heaven-sign 
At which my world grew blithe and shook May -boughs 
With birds in every branch! 

Ber. You've no more fear 

For Charilus.^ 

Ard. None, none. 

Nor for myself. 

Ber. Yourself? 

Ard. O, seems no soul need trouble now 

In this vast world! 

[Re-enter Charilus and sons] 

Bion. You are not Vairdelan? 

Vig. You're Bertrand, Oswald's son? 

Ber. 'Tis true. 

Vig. That truth 

Should cut your throat, and I could lend my sword 
For such a matter. 

Bion. Come! What knightly plea 

Coats this deceit with honor? 

Ber. None, my lord. 

If I've made trespass deeper than your love 
Will bear me out, my hope is in your pardon. 

Bion. A lie made you our guest, and guest you are 
Until we meet on Suli plain. 



238 K I D M I R 

Char. My son! 

Ard. Call you that pardon, Biondel? 

Bion. I speak 

No pardon. 

Ard. But you shall— you must. O, say it! 
You know our father goes to Oswald. 

Vig. I^now 

That fools and women talk! The gates are sealed. 

Bion. I'll guard the pass against my father's self 
If so much rudeness may make stand between 
His death and life. 

Char. My sons, I thank your love, 
But I go down. The guards, the gates are mine. 
And to my will they open. 

Vig. 'Tis that girl. 

That silvery Greek 

Char. If your quick blood must stir. 

Let manners grace it. 

Ard. O, my dearest brothers. 

Do you not love me? 

Bion. Better than you know. 

We love you, serve you, though yourself obstruct 
The way to safety. 

Yig, You would trust the man 

Who wrapped him in a lie to enter here? 
Sat at our father's board and brake his bread 
To feed an enemy? 

Ber. The bread I brake 

Fed friendship's heart in me, and made this roof 
A temple. Do you not know me, Vigard? 

Vig. Nay* 

I knew a Vairdelan — ^you are not he. 

Bion. If Oswald means no harm to Charilus, 
Let him pass on. Jerusalem awaits 
His savage sword. 



K I D M I R 239 

Char. My son, that Oswald thus 
Compels me to him is to me but proof 
That hearts may greet above long years of hate. 
In this I see Love beckoning Man across 
The wastrel lands of war to fields unwet 
With blood, to days 

Vig. Unhearted cowards then! 
Praise Allah, we yet live where rapiers thresh 
The fields of men and leave the bravest standing! 
Is 't not the Prophet's word that Paradise 
Lies 'neath the shade of swords? 

Char. Allah be yours! 
But I would walk beneath unrisen stars, 
Beyond hate's eyeless clouds 

Bion. O, spare us, sir! 

Each day brings its own sun, and by that light. 
No other, men must walk. If this our time 
Be dark to you, 'tis in your vision, not 
In the lit heavens, from whose shoreless depth 
No hook of prayer or prophecy may draw 
One star before its hour. Pray you be done 
With this moon madness. Banissat will meet 
The force of Oswald. With the morn he comes 
To seal his troth with Ardia 

Char. By no word 

Of mine. If you have given him pledge, your honor 
Shall dip to dust and drudge your forfeit out, 
Ere virgin bondage pay it. Hark, Biondel, 
And hear me, Vigard! I alone shall meet 
Earl Oswald. If the blood I shed yet cries 
For blood, here are the veins shall make it dumb. 

Bion. But, sir, 

Char. No more. Your sister stays with you. 

Regard her will, nor ope these doors unbidden 
To Banissat. 



240 K I D M I R 

Ard. I stay? 0, never think 
I shall not go with thee ! 

Char. You go? 

Ard. I'm safe 
With thee, my father. Here 

Vig. Here you have brothers! 

Ard. I mean no slight upon you, but my fate 
Keeps with my father. 

Char. I should doubt the God 

Who bids me go if I denied you this. 
Thyself art Peace, and where thou goest moves 
Her radiance. Make you ready. And good-night, all! 
Sir Bertrand, know the sleep that fits the heart 
For journeying. [Exit right, rear] 

Vig. [To Ardia] There's one will stop your way — 
Prince Banissat! 

Bion. We'll send him word this hour, 
For while the edge be on his sudden love 
He'll thank us to be swift. 

Ber. You loved me once, 

My lords. 

Bion. True, son of Oswald. 

Ber. Though you used 

Some bitter words, I know your inmost heart 
Holds me a man undoubted. There I'm stamped 
In honor's verity; and when I vow. 
By my soul's faith, that Charilus is safe. 
You know 'tis truth. 

Bion. Be you our father's hostage, 

If this mad thing must be. Stay you with us, 
And we are silent. 

Ard. Stay? You ask too much. 

Vig. No fear, soft sister. Mark him. We're refused. 
He'll stuff the air with words, not clear it with 
One pinch of proof. 



I 



K I D M I R 241 

Ber. My lords, were I to stay, 

'Twould make an act of faith lose point and purpose, 
And blazon doubt before my father's face. 

Vig. You mark? 

Ber. 'Twould louder cry of war; uproot 

Love's seedling in its tenderest hour, and make 
Once more the bane and night-weed spring. But hear 
An oath of mine. If Charilus meet harm 
In Oswald's camp, I shall return and ask 
The same stroke from your hands. 

Ard. O, do not swear! 

Ber. By every hope I have to enter Heaven, 
By the right hand of God, by this white cross 
That knew my mother's last, death-holy kiss, 
By every sacred thing I know and love, 
If Charilus comes up these heights no more, 
Here shall I lay my life beneath your sword. 
[Barca re-enters right] 

Barca. [To Bertrand] The master asks a word with you, 
my lord. 
[Exit Bertrand with Barca] 

Ard. Will you accept his oath? 

Vig. Go to your room. 

Bion. We'll talk alone. 

Ard. Nay, hear me first. You think 

To force me to the arms of Banissat. 
Give over that wild thought. 

Bion. 'Twas not so wild 

An hour ago. 

Ard. Fate lifts the hand that laid 

Compulsion on me. I am free. O, free! 
No strait of life or death can make me less 
Than mistress of myself. 

Bion. Our destiny 

Is bound with Banissat. Make him our foe, 
And where shall we find peace? Not on these peaks. 



242 K I D M I R 

Ard. Is he our jailer then? This Banissat? 
Our prison his good favor? Nay, the world 
Has many roads, and courage even yet 
May blaze a new one. 

Bion. Rooted life is best. 

I am not one to make my bed on winds. 
Or stroll the earth for fortune's grudged scraps 
Snatched from a rapier's point. 

Ard. Know this. My hand 

Shall never lie in Banissat's. Give up 
A hope so barren. There's better pasturage 
For wits so bold as yours. Now Oswald holds 
The breadth of Suli plain, the heights of Tor, 
Winged by the sea from Hon to Ramoor — 
A principality whose circuit leaves 
A vesta as a fly pinned to a wall. 

Vig. What's Oswald's fief to us? We are no sons of his. 

Ard. Lord Bertrand holds the princedom here 
While Oswald goes to wars in Palestine. 

Bion. He told you this? 

Ard. Did you not read as much 

In Oswald's letter? There 'twas plainly said. 

Bion. Still is our surest hope with Banissat. 

Ard. When Bertrand is your friend? O, more than 
friend ! 
A brother! 

Bion. Ah do you say "brother"? 

Ard. True 

As though he had been born our father's son! 

Bion. [To Vigard] You hear? 

Vig. With more than ears. 

Bion. We have been blind. 

Vig. A brother! 

Bion. All is clear enough, now that 

We've eyes for it. Your pardon, sister. 



I 



K I D M I R 243 

Ard. Pardon? 

Bion. Pray you! We thought your scorn of Banissat 
Marked you of creeping spirit, when your aim 
Shot o'er our lowered eyes. 

Vig. Ay, she has sped 

Before our boldest care of her, and left 
Our duty lurching. 

Ard. These are drunken words. 

Vig. If you would wed Lord Bert rand, 

Ard. O, you think 

Bion. Your hope has shown its wing. Best bid it fly. 

Vig. Speak without fear. This changes all. 

Ard. You mean 

You'll not delay us.^^ You will let us go? 

Vig. And speed you too ! High stroke, this anxious hour 
To journey in his care! 

Bion. Yet shielded by 

Our father's dignity. 

Ard. How you mistake ! 

He does not woo me! 

Vig. Now the modest foot! 

But we have seen the other. Trust us, sister. 

Bion. Mistake? I now recall his looks, his sighs. 
As from a love immured, — his songs, too warm 
For piety's cool breath, — and more that tends 
To happy proof. 

Vig. How dare he woo thee when 

Mere Vairdelan? This blade had stood between! 

Bion. Such beggar suit would then have cheapened thee 
Beneath a prince's wearing. [Leading her to door, right] 

No drooping now! 
The way lies clear. 

Ard. O, brother 

Bion. Get you in. 

Ard. Will you not listen? 



244 KID M I R 

Bion. Leave your hope with us, 

Your secret is our own. [Closes door upon her] 

Vig. Here's change of sky. 

You trust Lord Bertrand.^ 

Bion. That is now our course. 

Our father will go down. 

Vig. What's in your heart? 

I'll open mine. 

Bion. I beg you do. 

Vig. Ramoor 

And Hon now are crownless. Suli's prince 
Must have new^ governors. 

Bion. But Christian ones. 

That bars our way. 

Vig. The Prophet's cloak fits well 

With any fortune. 

Bion. Ah 

Vig. We've but to change 

The color, not the cut. 

Bion. [Listening] He comes! 

Vig. We'll speak. 

Bion. Not yet, my Vigard. Let this fruiting hope 
Swell to a golden fall. Wait with the sun. 
No green and forward plucking. 

[Re-enter Ardia] 

Ard. Hear me, brothers 

Bion. Not now. The prince! 

[Re-enter Bertrand, right] 

Ber. I pray your answer, friends. 

Let us go down unhindered, and my oath 
I leave with you, a hostage sure as though 
With iron bonds you held my breathing form; 
For in that oath I leave no treasure less 
Than honor, knighthood, and what in me moves 
Deathless to God. 



I 



K I D M I R 245 

Bion. It is enough. Our guest 

Is free. 

Ber. Once more my brothers! 

Bion. Know us ever 

By that dear name. 

Vig. And this deep oath you take 

For Charilus' sake, is sworn too for our sister? 

Ber. For Ardia? No, my lord. 

Vig. Do you say no? 

Ber. I must so answer you. For the fell harm 
That touches her would of myself make end. 
My honor so impeached would cease to breathe 
The air itself made foul. I could not come 
Having no life to bring me. 

Bion. We believe you. 

Go with our father. Take our sister too. 
And we upon these heights shall pray, as you 
On Suli plain, that Charilus may see 
His sons again. 

Ber. Come, let him know! This wished 
Obedience will give him sleep. 

[Exeunt Bertrand, Vigard, and Biondely right rear] 

Ard. Is 't best 
That Truth be dumb? FU watch this weaving Fate, 
And feed her web with silence Oh, with hope! 

[Curtain] 



ACT II 

Scene 1. A hall in the castle of Suli. Heavy doors open lefty 
half-way up. Large window with iron grating, rear. 
Couches, chairs, scattered. Tables from which servants 
are removing the remnants of a feast. They are quar- 
relling, chaffing, singing, as the curtain rises. 

First Ser. Shifty, there! 
Second Ser. What, can't a soldier eat? 
First Ser. You a soldier, lickspoon? 
Second Ser. I've drawn a sword, sir! 
First Ser. Ay, and cut a cheese. 
Third Ser. [Lifting flask] Here's to- 



Fourth Ser. [Seizing flask] No man shall guzzle my mas- 
ter's wine before me. [Drains vessel] 

Third Ser. [Sadly, turning up empty flask] Not after you, 
either. 

Fifth Ser. Well, well, and two moons back we were 
saying grace over ditch-water! 

Sixth Ser. Ay, we were good Christians then. A full 
stomach makes lean prayers. Now we've such a plenty 
we can spare the devil a fillip, and never a grace for it. 

First Ser. [Tugging at table] Take a leg there! This is 
no grasshopper. [Others help him move table to wall, right] 
Look about you! The maskers will be in here. 

Second Ser. Here? They'll be everywhere to-night. 
Such a jig-making over the new^ prince! 

Second Ser. Not a corner to drop into and sleep off a 
good supper with a clear conscience! 

Sixth Ser. Sleep? What have we to do with sleep? We 
fight, we eat, we dance. That's my soldier! 

246 



K I D M I R 247 

Second Ser. We kill, we cut, we caper! [Sings] 
The soldier rides on Fortune's wheel. 

All. Round we go. 

Round we go! 

Second Ser. Now up the head and now the heel. 

All. Round we go, 

Round 

[Enter seventh servant] 

Seventh Ser. Quiet, you devils! The master's coming. 

Second Ser. What, can't a soldier sing? Haven't we 
fought like true men? When did we give quarter? When 
did we show mercy? And now can't we be happy? Can't 
we take breath? 

Seventh Ser. Sh! and I'll tell you what I've seen. I've 
seen the daughter of Old Wisdom. 

Sixth Ser. He get a daughter! 

Seventh Ser. The maid of Kidmir. Ardia of the Stars 
they call her, but if the sun could shine in the middle of 
a dark night she would be like that. 

First Ser. Foh, the Lady Berenice will put out her can- 
dle. 

Seventh Ser. The Lady Berenice is as like her as the 
back of my hand to Juno's cheek! 

First Ser. A heathen comparison! There's a Christian 
blow for it! 

[They scuffle. Enter Oswald in talk with Bertrand. Ser- 
vants finish their work quietly and go out] 

Osw. My heart is whole again, now you've escaped 
The claws of Kidmir. 

Ber. Say the arms that closed 

Like God's around me! 

Osw. Fox, and lion too. 

That's Charilus. I knew him young, — when blood 
Tells nature's truth, — ere he had sucked 
Philosophy's pale milk and made his truce 



248 K I D M I R 

With prudence and long life. The heart then his 
He carries now 

Ber. Then, sir, you must have known 

The Maker's marvel, — youth that outstripped age 
And grayest saints in virtue. 

Osw. Tut! No matter. 
You're safe. And he is here within these walls. 

Ber. A guest of faith who holds your honor bound 
High hostage for his life. 

Osw. My honor? Trust me! 

I'll care for that. No more I'll blush to lift 
My shield i' the sun. The spot of thirty years 
Shall be wiped out. 

Ber. With love, my father? 

Osw. [After a pause] Ay, 

'Tis love shall do it. 

Ber. [Lifting his father s hand to his lips] 
You bind my heart to you. 

Osw. Too soft, my warrior. Keep such woman's play 
For Berenice. She will thank you for it. 
I'm rough and old, and need the soldier clap 
To start the singing blood. [Clapping Bertrand] 

A blow with good 
Red heart in 't! 

Ber. Berenice? 

Osw. Ah, that takes you! 

She's here at last. Prince Frederick arrived 
Three days ago, and with him his fair daughter, 
Too dear of value to be left behind. 
The prey of quarrelling kings. You'll dance with her 
To-night. 

Ber. You'll pardon me. I shall not dance. 

Osw. Faugh, there's the monk again! Why, boy, we'll 
pray 
The better for a little tripping, — fight 



K I D M I R 249 

The better too. One dance with Berenice! 
A beauty, sir, who makes me hate the years 
That He 'tween youth and me. She was to wed 
A son of mine by vow above her cradle. 
And I have buried every son save you. 

Ber. May I not keep one vow? 

Os2v. The pope long since 

Released you. Now 

Ber. My compact was with Christ. 

Osw. Why cling to one when all the rest are broken? 

Ber. It is the one lies wholly in my choice. 

Osw. You left your cell. 

Ber. Do you forget 'twas you 

Who shook to ground my cloister walls, and locked 
All holy doors against me? 

Osw. True, I did it. 

And with good warrant. Broadest Christendom 
Upheld my right and gave me back my heir. 
Small gain if you refuse to wed. My need 
Is not for sons but grandsons now. My boy, 
You'll let me see your children at my knee? 
Ho, hide your face? Then there's a heart in you. 
Why should I toil through blood and groans and fire 
To make a name my shroud will wrap with me? 

Ber. Toil then to give this land to God, and live 
So long as love shall live in men. 

Osw. Pale fame! 

Have you no blood of mine? How could my fire 
Father this sluggish monk? There was a maid 
On Kidmir, Charilus' daughter, who has come 
In wag of him, which speaks a fearless wench, — 
She taught you nothing in those moons you passed 
Upon her peaks? 

Ber. Sir? 



250 K I D M I R 

Qsio. ^Vhen I saw her face 
Flash from her veil, I could have sworn 
Your vow was drowned in her lake-eyes, and that 
Her captured softness had made easy way 
For royal Berenice. Now you talk 
Out of your cowl 

Ber. Not so! I am a knight! 
Your words have made me one! Now could I draw 
This sword that knows not blood 

Qg^ I'll bout with thee 

For any woman. Come! Thou'lt be a man 
Ere long. Come, sir! 

Ber. You've set a foot most foul 

Upon the flower of time ! 

Osw. It seems I've hit 

The mark i' the very eye. 

Ber. The whitest thought 

That holds her first must shrive itself! 

Osw. So, so! 

Come, end the song. She's yours. 'Tis not the moon 
You cry for, take an old man's word. 

^cj-^ The moon 

Were nearer to me ! 

Osw. Trrr-rrr-rr! 

Ber. My lord? 

Osw. A woman. Ask and have. I'll send her here. 
This is the hour to bait you, and I'd not lose it 
For half of Suli. 

Ber. Stay ! I will not see her. 

I dare not look upon her lest I lose 
Christ and myself. 

Osw. Are you so tuned? We'll have 

A wedding yet. 

Ber. Forget that word, and I 
Forgive you for it. 



KIDMIR 231 



Osw. A wedding, prince of Suli. 

This plain shall ring to Antioch. 

Ber. Nay, father, — 

And yet I thank you that your heart would make 
So fair a maid my bride. 

Osw. Fair? That's no word. 

She's glory's darling pearl, — the morning's eye 
That makes the night forgot ! When you have seen her- 

Ber. When I have seen her? 

Osw. Ay, 



Ber. Do you not speak 

Of Ardia? 

Osw. Ardia! Gods! Wed Kidmir's trull? 
Make me a doting grandsire to the heir 
Of Charilus? Hear it, stars! Am I the fool 
O' the earth? Give up my English forests, bare 
My purse for troops, and foot by foot fight way 
To Suli sands, — all this that I may set 
A droning dotard's line upon a throne, 
And be the ass of chronicle? O, poison! 
Well, well, I'm done. The girl is fair enough. 
And you shall have her if she pleases you. 
But Berenice — there's your bride, my boy! 

Ber. Wed Berenice? With that name you save me. 
By that I see the darkness coiling deep 
Along my bridal way. 'Twas Ardia's name 
That lit the path till I dared let my eyes, 
Though not my will, go venturing on 't. 

Osw. My son, 

Ber. Never again, my father, speak to me 
In this night's strain. Till morning I shall pray. 
And then I fast. Good-night. 

Osw. One moment. One! 

The sunrise feast? Will you not be with us? 
I drink with Charilus the cup of peace. 



252 K I D M I R 

Ber. And love that breaks no peace? 

Osw. [Assenting] See how you bend me? 
All that you ask I give, but you to me 
Yield nothing. 

Ber. Sir, this sword, my knightly suit, 
And princely title, make denial for me. 

Osw. Your pardon. I forget you count it much 
To give a crust and cell for this broad kingdom. 
I who have paid my heart out for a crown 
Must thank you now to wear it. 

Ber. Good-night. 

Osw. O, son, 

Have you no patience with a man grown old 
In many battles? Now feel I my age, 
Knowing the dearest blows of my long life 
Have bought me but this shadow. In you is drained 
Ambition's heart, — my every burning aim 
Fails here in you, and cools unforged, unshapen. 
Yet do you turn from me as though 'twere I 
Not you who gave the wound that parts us. 

Ber. I? 

Osw. Of all my sons I loved you best. You think 
I gave you to the friars with no twinge 
Here at my heart? Your mother said "One son 
We must return to God," and I said "Yea, 
So it be not my Bertrand." But her will 
Ran 'gainst me. When she had her way, I longed 
Through many a day to have you at my side, 
While you were happy with your songs and saints, 
Your father quite forgot. 

Ber. [Stirred] Nay, not forgot. 
And I am with you now. 

Osw. O, let me feel 
My son is mine! I'll yield you anything. 
Ay, even Ardia! She shall be my daughter 



I 



K I D M I R 253 

Ber. By heaven that keeps me true, I will not hear 
That name again! There's maddest music in it. 
I see her when I hear it. [Covering his eyes] 

Osw. [Aside] I see the lime 

Will catch you. 

Ber. Again, good-night. 

Osw. One favor, son. 

And slight too, by 'r lady ! 

Ber. Speak it, sir. 

Osw. I gave my word you'd wait on Berenice. 
I' faith, I know not what excuse to make 
To Frederick. 'Tis barest courtesy 
To give her greeting. 

Ber. I will welcome her, 

Our guest. 

Osw. Enough! [Going] You'll wait us here? 

Ber. I'll wait. 

[Exit Osicald. Bertrand sits with head bowed and does 
not heed maskers who enter and dance about him. 
They cover him with their garlands as they go off. A 
song is heard within] 

What save winds shall kiss his bones 
Bleaching on the desert stones? 
What but waves o'er him shall sigh 
Who doth drowned sea-deep lie? 
What save worms to him shall come 
Locked in earth, bound, keyless, dumb? 

Wild the wind and cold the wave, 
Sharp the tooth within the grave! 
Be such kisses for my ghost, 
Heart, my Heart, when thou art lost! 
Love me. Love, an hour and we 
Mock the cold eternity! 



254 K I D M I R 

Ber. [Taking up a flower] Eternity in this? 
[Ardia enters. He does not see her until she speaks] 

Ard. Prince Bertrand? 

Ber. [Rising] You? 

Not Berenice! 

Ard. Ah .... you wait for her? 

Ber. Who brought you here? 

Ard. The earl. Your father. 

Ber. He! 

What said he? 

Ard. That you prayed to see me, sir. 

Ber. O, faithless ! He deceived you. 

Ard. I will go. 

Ber. Stay — tell me — how you fare. 

Ard. Nay, you await 

The princess. 

Ber. You've all comfort? No least lack? 

Ard. I've food and bed, but little company. 

Ber. My father's plans press hard, and I'm a part 
Of them. Each hour he calls me. 

Ard. I know, my lord, 

This is not Kidmir. I've my father too. 
You've yours and Berenice. 

Ber. Nay, it seems 

Fate hath her changelings. You have come, not she. 

Ard. I sought no meeting, sir, but being here, 
I'll ask you of my father. Is he safe? 
Earl Oswald means no treachery to his guest? 

Ber. At sunrise he will drink the cup of peace. 

Ard. That's hours away ! He knows your life is pledged 
For Charilus' safety? 

Ber. No. I w^ill not wake 

A doubt against his honor. 

Ard. He should know. 

I've seen his eyes. Good hap, you have your mother's. 



K I D M I R 255 

Ber. If he be vile as you so fear he is, 
My pledge would be no leash to his bold will. 
He'd chain me here till he destroyed your brothers. 
Let him know naught, I'm free to keep my oath. 
But this should not be spoken. We do wrong 
To talk of things that have no being save 
In our own midnight fears. 

Ard. Well, I shall sleep. 

Good-night, my lord. 

Ber. Am I not Vairdelan? 

Ard. Ay, when you smile so. 

[Holds out her hands, and drops them untouched] 
Far, O far from Kidmir! 

Ber. Yea, an eternal journey my lost soul 
May find it. Ardia, counsel me. Two ways 
Stretch long before me, and I faint 
In daring either. Give me of your strength. 

Ard. My strength? I have none. 

Ber. You have God's. 

Men, proud in valor, stray and lose his hand; 
The woman holds it ever, walking floods 
And trampling fire where men go down. 

Ard. Tell me! 

How may I help you? 

Ber. Sit then. I will speak. 

[She sits; he stands near her] 
I have agreed to be the sovereign 
Of sword- won Suli. 

Ard. None will better serve 

Where he is master. O, this spear-torn land 
Shall flower to heaven and mate her bloom with stars! 

Ber. A bloom that dies with me? 

Ard. Death cannot make 

The spirit barren. 



256 K I D M I R 

Ber. [At distance] Through me my father hopes 
To found a princely house o'er-topping Asia 
With Christ-Ht towers. 

Ard. Oh! .... Then you will wed. 

Ber. [His eyes down] My bride is chosen. 

Ard. [Rising] Chosen? [Sits again] 

Nay .... I know .... 

Ber. [Returning] Your hidden eyes hide not the loathing 
there 
For me forsworn. Why have I troubled you? 
Look on me, Ardia. I am not yet fallen. 
I take your answer. You have chosen my way, 
And I set forth upon it — not forsworn. 

Ard. That word is naught. I do not think of it. 

Ber. Must man not keep his pledge? 

Ard. To mortals, yes. 

For so our lives are knit, and part to part 
Keep sound and whole. But pledges unto God 
Man cannot make or keep till he may bind 
The Will that journeys with the launched world. 
So might His rivers say "Here will we rest, 
And worship thee," nor run into the sea. 
And God must be content though all his fields 
Burn waterless. So might the winds vow Him 
Unbroken calm, and God who needs his storms 
Must still his own desire while his dear earth 
Goes pestilent. 

Ber. Unsentient things! He shares 
His will with man. 

Ard. But not to enslave his own. 
Christ seals no bond the lips lay on the soul 
That is each instant new as life, as change. 
As the importuning world. Ah, he who sells 
To one hour's narrow need the zenith light 
Of unborn days would snuff out time and know 



K I D M I R 257 

No rising sun. Himself would be a slavedom 
Where never Christ would walk. 

Ber. Is 't Ardia speaks.'^ 

Ard. Truth speaks, not I. If man must vow, 
Let it not be to love no woman, — wear 
The vest of fire, and in a sunless cell 
Chain Heaven-arteried life, — then peering out, 
Cling to the nested eaves transfixed to see 
His fled desires wear the horizon flame. 
But let him vow his Christ shall shrink no vein 
Of broad and pauseless being; ay, — shall keep 
Sweet surgence with his blood, climb with his spirit 
Time's lifting hills, and hold in watch with him 
The unshrouding pinnacles where love puts off 
The old clouds for the dawn. Forsworn? O, heart 
Cell-bound, thy very vows deny thy Christ. 
Who serve him wear no chains. 

Ber. You think me true? 

And yet I felt your wounded, doubting eyes 
Raining me scorn. Why was it, Ardia? 

Ard. Scorn? 

I have forgot why 'twas — or shall forget. 

Ber. And there was pity too, that dropped your lids. 
And would have sheltered me. Is that forgot? 

Ard. Nay, that I'll tell you that. I thought 

of Love, 
Man's angel, and the heart-lone way of him 
Who missed and found her not. Never to take 
More courage from the fall of her sure feet 
On heights that wind between death and the stars; 
Or where his road burns through the shadeless sands, 
Reach for the hand with fountains in its touch 
And feel the palm-breath round him. Not to know 
Her eyes when night is come, and there's no star; 
Her breast, that pillowing the darkened waste, 



258 K I D M I R 

Keeps warm the bitten earth and gives him dream 

To meet and match the dawn. So wept my thoughts, 

Forgetting that you are no wanderer, 

But kingly housed will rule a tamed realm. 

Or should a harvest come of spears, not grain, 

Yet is your princess brave and beautiful, 

And bears, may be, a mating heart. Love then 

Will come to you 

Ber. My princess? 

Ard. Berenice. 

Your father's choice and yours. 

Ber. My Ardia! Mine! 

Could such a lie creep to your soul and find 
No lances at the door? [Kneels y kissing her hands] 

My love, my love, my love! 
Let honors fail, and stars forget my name, 
'Tis thou shalt walk beside me, thou my chosen! 
I'll hear thy footfall on the winter steep, 
And take thy hand where desert noons are white. 
But close thy breast shall lie upon my heart. 
Nor pillow the bitten waste, my own, my own! 

[She moves from him. He rises] 
Why are you silent, pale, and heaven-still? 

Ard. I must be still. I've mourned my heart-walls 
thin. 
This joy will break them. Joy to hear your voice 
With love's mate-music in it cry to me. 
My joy! I'll drink it all, nor lose one drop, 
For I shall have no more. 

Ber. No more? No less 

Than life can hold ! 

Ard. Hear me, my lord. 

Ber. You love me! 

Ard. I shall not be your wife. 

Ber. You're mine — all mine! 



K I D M I R 259 

Ard. You hold your vow yet sacred, breaking it 
By the sole might of love. You do not feel 
The vision round you in whose light that vow 
Falls like a grave-cloth from an angel's limbs. 
Ah, Christ would be no bridal guest of ours. 
Shut out by your heart's fear. 

[He stands as if stricken] 
You see 'tis true. 
You listen for his sanction, and you hear 
The ring of your own vow. 

[He sits bowed] 
You hear it now 
Above your passion's chime. 'Twill fill the air 
When love's mad bells grow quiet, and your soul 
Asks the old question. Let me then be far 
From thee, nor stay to be a clasped fire 
Eating thy side. 

Ber. You'll heal me of my fear. 

[Reaching his hands to her] 
My fountain and my palm! 

Ard. Your doubt would stir 

Beneath your tenderest deep. My nearing step 
Would as a trumpet start its buried storm 
To sweep our meeting eyes. 

Ber. If Christ would give 

A sign, — leave me no choice, — no other way 

Ard. The torch of Fate but blinds us when the heart 
Beareth no light. 

Ber. Not Fate, but Heaven — there 

I'd read my sign. 

Ard. Hope not, my lord, that Heaven 

Will drive me to your arms. Farewell. 

Ber. No, no! 

To keep you I'll dare hell 



260 KID M I R 

Ard. Dare hell? My love 

Walks not that fiery verge, but waits thine own 
In regions nearer God. There we shall meet, 
And there will be no hell. 

[Turns to go, hut is drawn hack by his grief] 
Thou art a prince 
Of Christ. Arise and rule this land for him. 
There is no sin in you. You've kissed my hands, 
And they are bright as stars! 

Ber. O, can you go? 

You do not love me. In your breast are wings — 
No heart, but wings that seek the mountain sky. 
Go perch above me, leave me dying here. 
And cool your bosom with a virgin song 
To mateless heaven! 

Ard. WTio is cruel now? 

You have the world to feed on, need not eat 
Your heart as I must — I, the woman. Dear, 
Where Kidmir cliffs climb highest to the sky 
I'll keep my watch, but thou shalt rise above me 
In thought of men. O'er all discerning shall 
Thy purpose wing, perhaps be drunk of clouds, 
But light shall follow where thine aim has sped. 
And leading upward with your comrade world, 
My Kidmir shall seem lowly, where I walk 
With stintless ache beneath the cedar boughs 
On pain's moon nights. And oh, the Springs to pass, 
When each bride-bud shall be a wound to me, 
When grasses young, and softly pushing moss. 
Shall urge my feet like fire, and I must stand 
Quite still . . . quite still . . . with all my unborn 

babes 
Dead in my heart. 

Ber. [Motionless] You dare not leave me now. 
You dare not, Ardia. 



K I D M I R 2G1 

Ard. I dare not stay. 

[As she nears the great doors they rumble shut and are 
noisily barred without] 

Ard. Ho! Open, open, open! I pray you, open! 

[Beats on door, then leans to the silence] 
Shut in . . . shut in! So Oswald's treachery 
Begins with me. My father, we are lost. 
You are to die, and I — to-morrow, oh, 
My honor will go wasting on the fields 
With every soldier's breath! You hear, my lord? 
We are shut in . . . 

Ber. The miracle! 

Ard. Together. . . 

Ber. The sign! the sign! 

Ard. For all the night. . . 

Ber. For all 

Eternity! There is no other way. 
I take you as from Christ. My bride, my bride! 

[Curtain] 

Scene 2. The same. Gray of morning seen through grating 
of windoiv, rear, where Bertrand stands looking out and 
upward. Ardia is sleeping on a couch. The dawn- 
light wakes her and she starts up. 

Ard. 'Tis morning. Bertrand! You have watched all 
night? 

Ber. 0, there has been no night. 

Ard. I slept it through. 

Ber. Thy body slept, but thou hast been with me 
O'er all the world, and farther than the world, 
Out where the life begins. 

Ard. That may be true, 

For I had wondrous dreams. 



262 K I D M I R 

Ber. You speak of dreams? 

A magic touched me, and I woke from dream 
Knowing my life. What ways we went ! All things 
Seemed new, warm with the Maker's hand, as young 
As our own eyes, but 'twas eternity 
That kept them sweet, unaging. 

Ard. It was Love 

Who gave thee eyes to see the world immortal 
Even in our own. 

Ber. Do all Love's votaries 

Walk with such magic sight? 

Ard. In truth! I've seen 

A beggar woman tread the road-side dust 
As it were showered gold, because she had 
Love's eyes. And we — what joys our joy shall find! 
The pearling skies with rose-breath drinking ours 
'Tween sea and dawn! The leaves that turn i' the wind 
And tremble in our hearts — the brook-song that 
Began beyond the stars — the woodland nests, 
Breast-warm 

Ber. And one is ours. 

Ard. The lark that leaves 

His meadow-mate and reels at the sun's door 
Dropping his song of fire and clover-dew 
Down to her heart. 

Ber. [Kissing her] As this in thine ! 

Ard. And all 
Life's dearer-veined joys, — the way-side hands 
That pluck to camp-fire glow,— the smile of age. 
Gift-sweet and wise beside the garner door 

Ber. Ay, dear are these .... but when we came again 
From that far, holy place .... 

Ard. Ah, in your dream. 

Ber. Where no words go or come .... 

Ard. When we came back? 



I 



K I D M I R 263 

Ber. Walking the light between the parted stars, 

And met the days that knew us naught could 

hide 
The eternal joy within it. 'Twas a world 
Whose beauty lay allwheres. O, not alone 
In morning skies and mated larks a-wing! 
Each rag-hung thing was dipped in chosen time 
And wore its royal hour. 

Ard. If that could be! 

Ber. What seers, what eyes of light, outshone the pain 
That gave them being! Tears that silvered graves 
Globed in their pearl the immortal hope of men, 
And seemed as beautiful as prophecy 
Burning in its own truth. Ay, where a man 
Fell murdered, crying "I forgive," the ground 
Sprang as a garden 

Ard. Murdered? O, not that! 
How could you say it? I had forgot, forgot! 
Love in your dream looked you quite through the soul 
Of Time on things to be? What saw you then? 
Ah, tell me! 

Ber. Then? . . Then came this dimmer light 

Which you called morning, and I saw no more. 

Ard. I would I knew! 

Ber. You fear even now? 

Ard. O, me! 

Ber. Sweet, leave these shadows — dreams of ancient 
night 
That cling too late upon a day -warm world. 
Must I persuade you still that Oswald means 
Our happiness? 

Ard. Hark you! They come, my lord. 

Ber. The sunrise feast. Fit place and time to break 
The fast of love. 

Ard, O, hear! So many feet! 



264 K I D M I R 

Ber. Dear trembler, do not fear. 

Ard. They're here, my lord. 

Ber. Welcome the world. It has no eye can make 
Our own seek earth. 

[Doors open. Enter Frederick, Oswald, Charilus, Bere- 
nice, with lords and ladies attending. Servants folloiv 
bearing trays, and lay the table. Ardia hastens to her 
father and they talk apart. Oswald advances to Ber- 
trand, right, the others lingering left] 

Osw. I am forgiven? 

Ber. Forgiven ! 

Ask God and Love! I'll thank you all my life 
That you did force me take my only way 
To Heaven. 

Osw. Hmm! And I spent a bitter night 
Fearing your morning face. 

Ber. It was my soul's 

Birth-night. 

Osw. God bless me, you are grateful, sir. 
But you've good reason. [Looks at Ardia] I had no such 

mate 
To make the dark hours fly. 

Ber. Pray speak to her. 

Osw. In my good time. 

Ber. Nay, now! 

Osw. The day is long. 

I shall be gentle, for I owe her much 
Who gives me back my son. Come to our guests. 

Ber. Does Frederick 

Osw. Ay, he knows all, and bears 

No grudge. 

Ber. Knows all.'* 

Osw. He clapped my plot as though 

His own thick noil had hatched it. 

Ber. And the princess 



K I D M I R 265 

Osw. You see her smile? There's answer for you. 
Come! 
No blush! Put on a face. Your bridal news 
Shall sauce our banquet. 

[They move to guests] 

Fred. [To Bertrand] Greet you, sir! But why 
So pale, my lord? I fear me you have spent 
A sleepless night. 

Ber. Ay, as the stars. 

A Lord. The stars? 

He winked then, by the rood! 

Ber. What do you say? 

Lord. I say the stars do wink, most gracious prince. 

Osw. Come, find your seats, my friends ! Yet two of us. 
Lord Charilus and my unworthy self 
Must keep our feet till we have drunk the wine 
Made sacrosanct by one night's rest upon 
The Virgin's altar. 

[Bertrand places Ardias seat by her father, who stands at 
the left of Oswald] 

You, fair Berenice, 
Sit at my right, and on your other side 
The graceless prince of Suli begs for room. 

Bere. He beg, my lord? I have not heard his tongue, 
And for his eyes, I fear no leek of Wales 
Could pull a beggar's tear from them to oil 
This suit. But he is welcome. 

Ber. [Taking seat by her] Thank you, lady. 

[When all are seated save Charilus and Oswald a priest 
enters bearing a chalice of wine which he places on table 
before Oswald] 

Osw. This is the cup by angels visited 
In night's deep hours. Herein they dropped the peace 
Of Heaven, which Charilus and I shall take 
Into our hearts. I know in truth it holds 



266 



KIDMIR 



Sweet peace for me— the peace that thirty years 
My veins have ached for. Charilus, what say you? 

Char. My heart can hold no more of peace than now 
Doth fill it, but I drink with you, my lord. 

[Drinks from gohlet which Oswald has filled from chalice, 

and Oswald drinks from goblet filled by Charilus] 
Osw. [Dropping his glass] Is peace a fire? 
I' faith, this kindles me! 
Thou smileless priest, take off the Virgin's cup! 
You think it needs another blessing, sir, 
Since my bold hand has touched it? Out with you! 

[Exit priest with chalice] 
That pinch-face has seen hell and fasts to keep 
The ghost down. I'll not fast. Set to, my friends. 
Fill up your bowls, for I've a health for you. 
We drink to Berenice, bride to be 
Of Bertrand, prince of Suli and my son! 

A Lord. [As all lift their glasses] 
We pledge the bride of Bertrand— Berenice! 

Ber. Drink not, my lords, till you have changed that 
name 
To Ardia, daughter of our noble guest. 
Lord Charilus! 

Fred. [Rising] If this be sport. Earl Oswald, 
A world of groans shall pay for 't! 

Bere. [In mock swoon] Oh ... I faint. . . . 

[Her ladies help her] 
Osw. You bawling ass! You thousand times a fool! 
Ber. [To Oswald] You've woven a maze about me, and 
I'm blind 
With 't, yet I see to pluck one truth,— my bride 
Is Ardia. No other under Heaven! My lords, 

It is the wine 

Osw, Would then 'twere in your throat! 

1$ this the riddle of your morning smile? 



K I D M I R 267 

Your fair compliance, soft submission? Sir, 
By my heart's blood, I'll give you to the sword 
Ere you shall make me father to a drab — 
The spoil of your own lust, the — What, you draw? 
Ay, strike me down! Let me be first to fall 
Beneath your mighty sword! The rust has lain 
A lifetime on it, and a father's blood 
May cleanse it bright as Heaven! 

Ber. O, my Christ! 

Osw. Yea, call on him, and he will hear thee too. 
Who honorest so thy father! 

[Bertrand stands speechless] 
Now, my lords, 
Since he no longer brays, I have a tale 
To tell you. I, too, had a father, though 
The world has long forgot him. 

Fred. No, my friend. 

Well do 1 bear in mind his fair, proud face. 
And glory of his arms. 

Osw. He was struck down 

Because a minion, straying from the hearth. 
Looked on his beauty with her nestling eyes. 

Fred. For no more cause? 

Osw. I swear it. Friends, if death 

Were the cold price for kissing of a jade, 
Who here would be alive? For so slight sin 
Was my brave father murdered. Charilus, speak! 
Was not the princely heart of John of Clyffe 
Ripped w^ith a hate-keen sword, — the sword of him 
Who claimed the lordship of those rebel lips 
That chose my father liege? 

Char. It is too true. 

Osw. Who better knows? Say that a wilding flies 
The builded bower, hearing a lordlier song 
Pass on the wind than her dull mate can tune, 



268 K I D M I R 

Must then the singer die, who scarcely knows 
His song is heard, or that a bold wing follows? 

Char. Whether the earl of Clyffe sang then to woo, 
As I believe, or for the love of song, 
As you do say, my lord, — his death was sin, 
And he who wrought that woe shed tears enough 
To clear his stain, if tears may whiten souls. 

Osw. A murderer's tears! But what of mine, the son's? 

Ber. Your oath — ^your honor, sir! Where is the love 
You swore should cleanse your shield? 

Osw. Safe in my heart. 

And burning for my father. 

Ber. God of pity! 

Osw. That was the love I spoke of. 

Ber. All be deaf 

But hell! 

Osw. Hear the full tale, my friends. I swear 
The earl of Clyffe died for no more offence 
Than I have here set out, — and I, his only son, 
Kissed his red wounds and from his breast unbound 
This bloody scarf — [taking scarf from his bosom] that then 

was crimson, now 
In age-grown black bemourns my step that comes 
So sluggish to revenge. For thirty years 
Had passed ere I beheld his murderer. 
Then face to face we stood .... and face to face 
We stand . . . for this is he, this Charilus 
Of Kidmir — peace-lipped Cain — gray hypocrite. 
Whose blood is honey in his veins, whose eyes 
Stare on the world as he were some bland god 
Who made it and said "good." 

Char. Sir, I would send 

My daughter to her brothers. Grant me this. 
And I am ready for what death you please. 



K I D M I R 269 

Ard. I will not go. One sword shall strike us both. 

[Turns to Oswald] 

But first a word to you. When Charilus falls, 
Say farewell to your son. He pledged his life 
To my two brothers for our father's safety, 
And you, who know him least, yet know he'll keep 
That pledge. 

Osw. What, creature, will you lie.'^ 
Ard. I speak 

The truth. Strike, if you can, this gray old man. 
Silvered in service to the one high God, 
Sinless as sunlight, fair in sweetened age, — 
Let forth his sainted blood, and Bertrand lives 
No longer than the shortest time between 
Suli and Kidmir. 

Osw. That's a lifetime then! 

He shall not step! I'll have him hung with chains 
Till he is fast as rooted oaks in earth ! 

Ber. [Stunned] A guest betrayed 

Osw. Betrayed .^^ I promised him 

Such treatment as he gave my blood. And he 
Shall have it — death! 

Char. Peace be my heir! 

Ber. [Takes stand by Charilus] Death, sir? 
First break this sword ! Thy sin must be unnamed 
Until the angel who doth write thee damned 
Gives it foul christening. I break my pledge. 
I will not go to Kidmir. Here I'll give 
My life for Charilus. 

Char. No blow for me! 
O, may I unavenged lie forgot. 
And my forgiving blood make barren ground 
Alive with asphodel 



270 K I D M I R 

Ber. Nay, I will strike, 

Though a father's sword meet mine! 

[Charilus trembles, and supports himself by Ardias arm] 

Osw. Commend me, stars! 

You counselled well. [To Bertrand] Fool, do not draw. 

There's none 
Will run against you. Charilus is dead. 
And by a way more sure. His holy goblet 
Held one rich drop the angels put not there 
Nor Virgin blessed. See how he pales — and stares — 
And cannot get his voice? So are we spared 
A swan-song homily trickling through his beard. 
Be off, old pray-lip — off, and take with you 
Your cat-foot peace and milky piety ! 
I serve a vengeful God who armeth men 
For his own wars! 

Ber, Heaven, draw thy clouds about thee! 
[Charilus dies in Ardia's arms] 

Osw. He's dead! The air of earth is sweet again. 
I have no enemy! 

Ber, [Looking up from the body] You have no son. 

[Curtain] 



ACT III 

Scene: On Kidmir Pass. Moonlight paling to dawn. 
Ardia alone, struggling up the Pass. 

Ard. [Looking back] They do not follow. I am safe 
from that. [Sits on a rock] 
Why should I climb? There is no rest up there. 
But there is death, mayhap, — and that is worth 
The sorest climbing. O, my father dear, 
Is't thy dead self so heavy on my heart? 
Thou shouldst be light upon thy spirit wings. 
And give me of thy freedom. 

[Gaina enters from above] 

Gaina, hast found 
The spring? 

Gaina. 'Tis farther up. 

Ard. More steps. 

Gaina. Wait here. 

Barca will bring you drink. Nay, sit you still. 

Ard. I must. How this weak body masters us, 
Cooling the bravest will that in strong limbs 
Might dance to any goal! Yet do we say 
The will is lord, whose flush is in the blood 
And fades wi' the paling body. By that lie 
We cling to Heaven and immortality. 
. . . O, I am lost so deep I need not fear 
The farthest bolt of God ! Out, out the pale 
Of his concern! 

Gaina. Why now, honey dear! 

A sip of fine spring water and you'll be 
A lark o' the morning! All's not bad, I say. 

271 



272 K I D M I R 

There's Banissat would marry you to-morro«v! 

What pretty words he spoke, and took us in 

Like a good father — but I saw him look! 

And he were shaved he'd have a merry eye. 

Such meal and honey! Fve a thankful tooth! 

Come now, what say you? Run from such a fortune. 

And stumbling is no matter. Ay, a trip 

Or two were well enough. 

Ard. Yes, foolish 'twas 

To fly from Banissat. 

Gaina. You know it? Well, well, 

If it's your own right mind you've run to, dearie, 
There's no harm done past mending. 

Ard. [Taking a small dagger from her dress] 

This had saved 
My feet these weary steps. 

Gaina. Sweet Mary, save us! 

Wouldst slay a prince for loving thee? 

Ard. No, wretch. 

I could not take another's life though 'twere 
Of all the world the foulest. 

Gaina. Bless the lass! 

Ard. But out of pity I could take my own. 
Why should my heart beat on and labor so 
For merest leave to beat again? 

Gaina. Now, now! 

[ Enter Barca] 
Here's Barca, praise the saints ! Now you'll take heart ! 
[Ardia takes gourd from Barca and drinks] 

Ard. Thanks, Barca. But there's misery in the 
draught 
That makes me keen again. I fear me I'll 
Yet hope. 

Barca. Will you walk on? 

Ard. Yes, come. 



K I D M I R 273 

Barca. [Listening] What's that? 
A noise below! 

Ard. Some one from Banissat! 

I'll not be taken ! 

Barca. Come aside, my lady. 

Here is good hiding. 

[They go behind a great rock half hidden by cedars. Ber- 
trand enters below. Ardia steps out and stands before 
him. He kneels] 

Ber, Spirit, hast come for me? I'll join thee, love, 
When I have climbed this peak and met the sword 
That sets my honor free. 

Ard. Nay, rise, my lord. 

Ber. [Rising] Thy living self? Here in the night alone? 

Ard. Barca is here, and Gaina. 

Ber. Sweet, the moon 

Makes thee so fair. 

Ard. [Smiling] Was I not always fair? 

Ber. [Embracing her] My living love! Sit here, — and 
now thy story. 

Ard. I'll shorten -it to get to thine. 

Ber. You had 

The dagger that I sent you? [She shows it to him] 

My sole gift 
To love. 

Ard. O, it was dear as death then seemed 
To me! 

Ber. Cast it away. 

Ard. No, for love's sake 

I'll keep it, and it shall do no work save God's. 
Listen .... it prophesies .... I'll need it yet. 

Ber. O, I was mad to send it! Would you wreck 
This tent set fair upon the soul's long road. 
By pain-craft wrought of every whiter dream. 
Where God may sit with us and map the winds 



274 K I D M I R 

That forward blow and back, the paths laid free 
To His far end, and those where bhnd walls rise 
Breast-piled with thwarted dust? Dear soul of me. 
Would we know Heaven we must listen here, 
And one word lost may mean a path all dark 
When we fare outward. This is not for you, 
This fear-born blade. Away with it! 
[She clasps it closer] 

Is not 
Your danger past? 

Ard. Not while Avesta loves. 

Ber. O God! But tell me now the full, foul story, — 
Yet not all foul, since you are here alive. 

Ard. Your father 

Ber. IVe no father! 

Ard. — sent me forth 

With my two servants. When we reached Avesta, 
The prince met us with welcome, much too warm 
Methought, so in the night we stole away 
And reached the pass — all with some wit and care. 
As you shall know hereafter. Now your word. 

Ber. I was imprisoned. 

Ard. Yes, I know. 

Ber. A guard 

Gave me his sword. I fought the others. 

Ard. Fought? 

Ber. And killed. Look on this blade. 
A brother's blood. 

Ard. My love! 

Ber. At last I am Earl Oswald's son! 

Ard. My Bertrand! [Drawing aside his cloak] 
You are wounded ! Vairdelan ! 

Ber. That name is no more mine. 

Ard. How did you pass 

Avesta? 



K I D M I R 275 

Ber. The guards were friends of Vairdelan. 
I used the stainless name that I had lost. 
O, I have lied to keep my word, and slew 
That I might die! 

Ard. Might die? You mean . . . my brothers. 
They must be merciful. 

Ber. With Charilus slain. ^ 

Ard. O, me! I too shall die. And that is best. 
If anything we do be worst or best. 
I've read within my father's secret script 
That earth shall lose its heart of fire, and lie 
Dead-cold and dark with no green thing upon it. 
Then this black crust shall bear no form of man. 
Nor trace of him. Why then such ceaseless pain 
To look a little longer on the sun. 
When he who seals his eyes this day with dust 
But leagues with time to reach the journey's end 
Without the journey's ache? 

Ber. Hast lost thy faith? 

Ber. My heart, say earth must be its own still grave. 
Our destiny lies farther. But were life 
A march to naught, I'd choose it for the sake 
Of one bright wonder by the way — ^your love. 
My Ardia. 

Ard. You love me, yet would die. Thou 'rt mine! 
And I will hold thee, yea, on this warm earth. 
Not in some strange and tearless world! 

[While they speak Barca moves up the pass and listens] 

Barca. My lord? 

Ber. Ay, Barca? 

Barca. Men are on the pass. 

Ard. Above? 

My brothers! Oh! 

Ber. I go to meet them. 

Ard. Stay! 



276 K I D M I R 

Ber. They shall not come to me. I go to them. 
My honor, love, my honor! 

Ard. O, men, men! 

You build a shrine to love and ask us fling 
Our lives, our souls into it. Once within, 
The door forever shut, there sits a god, 
A monster-god, your honor, and we must sue 
For barest room to stand or crouch or kneel 
Where by your oaths we should be sovereign. 

Ber. The shrine itself is honor, dear, my heart. 
That gone, we have indeed no holy place 
To shelter love. Was 't not yourself who said 
That man to man must keep his pledge? 

Ard. Ah me, 

That shining night! That night of golden wings! 
And now comes this. Can such two nights be born 
In the same world, and but one sun between .f^ 

[Bertrand staggers] 
You're bleeding still ! 

Ber. Fast, fast. 

Ard. My veil 

I'll wrap you with it! [Binds wound] 

Ber. Thanks, for I would live 
To die upon their swords. 

Ard. Wait, wait, my lord! 
O, do not meet them in their first deep rage 

Ber. Farewell! 

Ard. You shall not see them till my prayers 
Have turned their hearts from blood. 

Ber. Part thou with hope 

And pain will leave thee too. That is the wrench. 
Not death. 

Ard. Stay, stay! Are there not miracles yet.? 
I'll hide you yonder till 



K I D M I R 277 

Ber. They come! 

[Hurries up pass, staggers and falls] 

Ard. He faints ! 

The miracle begins! Here, Barca, Gaina, 
Bear him aside. Be swift ! Then come to me. 
O, gently, Barca! Haste! 

[Barca draws Bertrand behind the rocks] 
He shall be saved! 
Thou'lt not deny me, Heaven! O, forget 
That ever I blasphemed Thee ! 

[Enter, above, Biondel and Vigard] 

Vig. Who is here? 

Ard. My brothers ! 

Vig. Ardia, by my life ! 

Bion. 'Tis she. 

What do you here? 

Ard. I go to you. Where else 

Shall I find shelter in a world now bare 
Save where your hearts make gentle room for me? 

Bion. What do you mean? Where is our father? 
Speak ! 

Ard. You have not heard? Why then do you go down? 

Bion. For word of Charilus. No messenger 
Has come. All night we watched. What can you say 
More than this fearful meeting tells? No word? 
Are you the ghost you look? Is Charilus safe? 

Ard. Safe as yon Heaven would have him. He is dead. 

[Silence] 
You loved him, though you went another way 
To find your God. 

Bion. Our father dead? O, sister. 
Not cold, not still, not silent to his sons, ' 

Who loved his voice even when they most forsook it ! 

Ard. Oswald betrayed us. 



278 K I D M I R 

Vig. O, my sword, 'tis thou 

Shalt split his heart, though every spear in Suli 
Then pierce my own! [Going] 

Bion. Stay, Vigard! 

Vig. Earth is fire! 
Can you be still upon it? Where is Bert rand 
With his deep oaths? O, coward! I will seek him 

Ard. No need. He'll come to you. 

Bion. He'll keep his oath, 

You think? 

Ard. I know he will. 

Vig. So knew you too 

That Charilus was safe. Call him to life. 
And we'll believe you yet ! 

Bion. How died our father? 

[Ardia weeps] 
No matter now. And Oswald cast you out? 
Afoot? 

Gaina. Ay, so he did ! I'll answer that ! 

Ard. He sent us under guard. 

Gaina. Ay, but afoot! 

And 'twas a trudge to Avesta. O, the day ! 

Bion. Prince Banissat gave you no help? 

Gaina. No help? 

Who said so? There's a prince! He drew his sword, 
And swore he'd drive Earl Oswald to the sea. 
And said "Avesta's yours," — that to my mistress, 
She then bedraggled and so full of tears 
She had no words to thank him. I did that! 
Then we had sup and bed, and when my bones 
Were sweet with sleep, why we must up again 
And tug it to the peak. 

Bion. [To Ardia] He sheltered you! 
Then there was hope, w hich you have trampled down 
By this mad flight. 



K I D M I R 279 

Ard. I dared not think the prince 

Would make my bitter fortunes his. In you 
Lay my defence, and to your love I came. 
You must make peace with Oswald. Yes, my brothers, 
Although you write it with our father's blood. 
He is all powerful. When Bertrand comes— — 

Vig. Ha, when he comes! 

Bion, What then? 

Ard. You may demand 

Whatever you will of Oswald, if you spare 
The dear life of his son. 

Vig. I'll have that life 

And Oswald's too! 

Ard. He'll make you any terms 

Vig. Ay, any terms, and keep none, once his son 
Is safe. 

Bion. [Looking down the pass] Who comes? — with 
gleaming lances? Ah . . . 
The prince! 

Vig. By Allah, he! 

[It is now dawn. Ardia steps hack into shadow as Banis- 
sat and followers enter. His retainers wait at entrance 
below while he advances] 

Ban. Good-morrow, friends. 

Bion. Hail to you, Banissat! 

Ban. 1 seek a dove 

That fled my hand last night. Has 't flown your way? 

Bion. Our sister is with us. 

Ban. Then search ends here. 

Bion. Her flight meant no ingratitude, my lord. 
Her father's arms grown cold, she came to ours 
By the shortest way, bringing her honor home 
Where none might question it. 

Ban, We love her more \ 

For watchful care of what to us is precious 



280 K I D M I R 

As to herself. Heaven-pure must be the bride 
Of Banissat, and tainted Heaven will put 
The earth to blush ere she will bring us shame. 
I oflFer her my princedom. 

Ard. [Stepping out] One whose veil 
Is lost? Whose face is common to the eyes 
Of beggars by the road.^^ 

Ban. O, bald and bitter! 

But did not one, our Lady of Paradise, 
Walk with bare brow among our counsellors.'^ 
And you are pure as she. Who dares to soil 
The chosen of Banissat with whisper that 
He saw you on this journey, forfeits eyes 
And tongue. So silence shall give burial deep 
To every slander. 

Ard. You will not forget. 

Ban. Yourself shall be my dear oblivion. 
For Beauty keeps no records, has no past; 
Her arms engird love's moment, and there is 
No other time. 

Ard. Nay, Beauty's history 

Is writ beneath her bloom, and when that goes 
The deep, uncovered scars are hated more 
Because of love that kissed them unaware. 
I dare not wed you, but say that I dared, 
Wouldst grasp my broken fortunes when you need 
Strong Antioch's staff and sceptre to make good 
Your gates 'gainst Oswald? And I've heard, my lord, 
That Antioch's daughter is a prize you seek. 

Ban. Be not o'er-jealous, Ardia of the Stars, 
For Antioch shall serve thee. There my suit 
Is but a fair appearance, — there I woo 
To make thy state secure, and thou shalt be 
Bride of my heart unrivalled. 



K I D M I R 281 

Ard. Hear me then! 

I am betrothed to Bertrand. He is sworn 
To me as I to him. 

Vig. Death to your tongue! 

You'd wed your father's slayer? 

Ard. I would wed 

Lord Bertrand. [Kneels to Biondel] Brother! 

Vig. Give no ear to her! 

Ard. If you would save Avesta and yourselves, 
Make peace with Oswald. Trust not Antioch. 
When Bertrand comes 

Vig. He will not come ! He's not 
A fool as thou! 

Ard. He comes! 

Vig. [Lifting his sword] Then here's his welcome! 

[Bertrand comes out and walks slowly to the group. 
Vigard, amazed, lowers his sword] 

Ber. My friends, well met. You cut my journey short. 
[Gives his sword to Biondel] 

Bion. You have come back ... to death ,^ 

Ber. The blow, my lord. 

Your work is wellnigh done. An easy stroke 
Will finish it. 

Vig. And whose is that? 

Bion. Not mine. 

I do condemn him, but can lift no hand 
To seal mine order. 

Vig. I am not so weak. 

This blow for Charilus! 

Ard. [Staying him] If Bertrand dies 
My honor goes unto a grave so deep 
No shoot of green will ever from it spring 
For the world's eye to light on. 

Bion. You make much 

Of broken troth. There's many a maid has lived 
In wedded honor with a second choice. 



282 KID M I R 

Ard. But I may not. 

Bion. Peace, sister. 

Ard. Let him live, 

And Suli's glory will enwrap my name 
Stainless and safe. 

Ban. 'Tis safe with me. Ay, safer. 

Let Antioch enlist with me, and I 
Shall wear the name of Suli with my own. 

Ard. You've yet to hear . . . you do not know, my 
lord. . . . 

Ber. Sweet, plead no more. Let me go on to Heaven 
If 't be God wills his gates shall ope to me. 

Vig. You'll stop in hell a thousand years or so! 

Ard. Wait! I will tell 

Vig, You've said too much! 

Bion. Speak, Ardia. 

Ard. In Suli castle where I was betrothed 
To Bertrand, just one sun agone — but one — 
He spent the night with me. 

Vig. She lies! 

Ard. Say now 

If Banissat, or any lord save Bertrand, 
Will make me wife. 

Bion, Must I believe you? 

Ban. No. 

A woman's trick. 

Ard. There's proof. Ask whom you will 
Of Oswald's train — the lords who saw me cast 
From Suli's door, too vile for word or touch. 
Ask any trooper, jesting by the way. 
And hear my name made foul. The army rings 
With it. Ask any gossip of the tents 

Ban. O, stop her tongue! It thunders on me! All 
The air is storm! Peace, or I'll strike her down! 



K I D M I R 283 

Bion. This seals your death, Lord Bertrand. Now my 
hand 
Is hot and wilHng. 
[Enter a messenger below. He gives a packet to Banissat] 

Messenger. Antioch sends this, 
O, prince! 

Bion. [To Bertrand] I had your word above all oaths 
That you would guard our sister. When the priest 
Strips bare the shrine, not outraged God or man 
Shall show him mercy. 

Ard. He is innocent! 
'Twas Oswald's plot to cast me in the dust — 
And there I lie where all the world may see — 
But Bertrand's soul is guiltless 

Vig. Guiltless ! Tush ! 

Your puzzle's clear. [To Biondel] She dies with him. 

Ard. I die 

If Bertrand dies. But, oh my brothers, we 
Are young — we love — will you not let us live? 

Bion. [To Vigard] 'Tis best she dies. 

Ber. You will not dare 

Bion. The prince 

Shall be her judge. 

Ban. First let us speak aside, 

For Antioch fails us, and we've more to weigh 
Than the quick death of this too-guilty pair. 

[Banissat, Biondel, and Vigard go off above] 

Ber. I have brought death upon you. 

Ard. Life, 'tis life 

Now beating in the dawn ! What music ! Hear it ! 
O, we shall live, my lord, and live together! 

Ber. In Heaven, love. 

Ard. True, for this planet too. 

Ay, even this earth, is set in Heaven as deep 
As any star. 'Tis we are heaven to eyes 



284 K I D M I R 

In other worlds, and would be to our own 

Could we believe. O, hope with me, my Bertrand ! 

No, no, not hope, whose other half is doubt, 

And to its dark and fearful double owes 

Its very radiance, too, too unlike 

Belief's transmuting sun! 

Ber. Ah, love, no man ere broke 

Undrained his cup, or brewed again those drops 
To his desire 

Ard. Nay, every man is new 

In destiny, his star his own, and foots 
Unmeasured paths. 

Ber. On mortal feet. 

Ard. Be 't so, 

Each birth is a high venture of the soul 
Feeling an untried way for deity's dream, 
And none may know where th' deep and twilight trail 
Shall flash with God-rift, and the dawn be his. 

Ber. O, bravest, bow thy head — — 

Ard. Nay, nay, my lord! 

Lock up your spirit, let mine rule this hour. 
Or be with me the flame of faith that leaps 
To deed in God. For we do help him, dear. 
Our parcelled strength is whole and new in His, 
A power born that touches us again. 
Breeding our greater self that yet gives back 
His own increase, until the way is strewn 
Even with his miracles and ours. So works 
The unending drama out, where every act 
Begets an act yet greater than itself. 

Ber. Let me but kiss thy hands. 

Ard. You will not help.'^ 

You'll not believe? Is it so strange 
That you should live? 

Ber. That hate should let me live. 



K I D M I R 285 

Ard. Is it more strange that hate should grow love-still. 
Than that the wind should cease, as now it does, 
To strip the bloom from yonder bough, and lie 
Unfelt within its silent place? More strange 
That life should keep its flow in your warm veins 
Than that the sun now creeping on the peaks 
Should wander down and on and lay in gold 
The valleys of the world, moved by no hand 
We see or name, but know, but know! 

[Biondely Vigard, and Banissat re-enter] 

Ard. He lives! 

Bion. He lives. Speak the conditions, prince. 

Ban. [To Bertrand] Your life 

Is spared that she whose name is lost 
May wear your own. You shall remain on Kidmir 

peak. 
And make her yours by every priestly rite 
With open, fair observance. Then Earl Oswald 
Must greet as daughter one he vilely mocked 
From his proud door, and far and wide acclaim her 
Princess of Suli. Will his love for you 
So bow his heart? 

Ber. I may not speak for him. 

Ard. He will consent. 

Ban. And, further, he shall give 

To Biondel the governorship of Hon. 
And grant Ramoor to Vigard. 

Ber. Not for price 

Of my poor life will Oswald yield these towns 
To any save a Christian. 

Ban. So we think. 

And therefore will these lords forswear 
The Prophet for your Christ. 

Ber. Such sudden change 

Vig. Not sudden, sir. We've long debated it 



286 K I D M I R 

In secret talk, but loved too well our prince 
To so forsake his banner. 

Bion. Now the day 

Is here when as his true and Christian friends 
We may best serve him, and yet keep the peace 
For which our father died. 

Ber. He is alive again 

If you be true. Though wonder is in the hour 
I will not stare or question. 

Ard. Question nothing. 

Do you not live? 

Bio7i. The prince will summon Oswald 

To earliest parley, and make our offer known. 

Ban. Nor lose an instant. Here begins my journey. 

[Signs to retainers who start down the pass] 

Bion. We need not give you thanks when you've our 
hearts 
That hold them. 

Ban. By the sunset hour the earl 

Shall give me answer. Meet me in Avesta 
'Tween dark and light. 

Bion. We will, my lord. 

[Exit Banissat] 

Ber. O, strange! 

Will he keep faith? 

Bion. If you must doubt his heart, 

Trust his affliction. Antioch lost to him, 
What can he do but smile on Christian Oswald? 
By that same argument I am condemned, 
But beg a respite till this pushing peace, 
Upsprung in haste, may bear you buds of proof. 

Ber. What world is this? 

Vig. Climb you no farther, sir. 

Your wounds forbid. Our servants shall be sent 
To bear you up. 



K I D M I R 287 

Bion. Ay, wait you here, my lord. 

[Exeunt Biondel and Vigard above] 
Ber, Love, see the sun! 
Ard. It is my heart, my heart! 

[Curtain] 



ACT IV 

Scene: Same as first act. An altar near wall, left. Seven 
maidens putting fresh garlands about the hall. 

Mylitta. She must be dressed by this. Come, let us 
sing! 

Mirimond. No, wait! Our part is yet undone. 
Here hangs 
A withered garland. 

Alenia. Here another. See! 

And there! Well, we are slack. 

Eudora. Who would not be? 

We've cause for sleepy wits and fingers too. 
With seven days and nights of revelling. 

Garla. And Charilus warm in 's grave. 

Myrana. He'll be no colder 

Let come a hundred months. Ten years, ten days, 
'Tis all the same i' the ground. 

Daphne. And yet, I think 

The daughter smiles too soon. 

Mylitta. Troth, I would smile 

For such a lord if all the world beside 
Were wrapped in shroud. 

Mirimond. I would the English knights 

Were come ! Full fifty, Barca said, would ride 
From Suli. 

Mylitta. I know you, chit. Your eyes will find 
Their way. 

Mirimond. Mayhap not all of us will take 
The homeward ship for Corinth. Did we think 

288 



K I D M I R 289 

When we set sail we'd come in time to see 
Our Ardia married? 

Mylitta. You will dream. 

Garla. If dreams 

Were men, what maid would go unwed? Not you, 
Mylitta. 

Myrana. Come, our song! 'Tis time! 

Eudora. Come, all! 

[They sing by Ardia s door] 

Mornings seven have we been 

Wardens at thy door; 
Now thy lord shall enter in, 

And we come no more. 

Mornings seven have we strewn 

Lilies at thy door; 
Now the virgin watch is done, 

And we come no more. 

Mornings seven have we sung 

At thy maiden door; 
Now the seventh morn is rung, 

And we come no more. 

[Door opens and Ardia comes out. Gaina follows] 

Ard. A kiss to all ! Who's happier here than I 
Shall have my place. 

Mirimond. We'll ask Lord Bertrand that. 

Thou 'rt no more mistress of your yeas and nays. 

Ard. O, but I am! I have a votary now 
Who'll make my words his wishes and himself 
Bring them to pass. 

Mylitta. No doubt. You'll cough 
In oracles. He'll puzzle o'er your sneeze 



290 K I D M I R 

That he may do its meaning. I have heard 
Such husbands do inhabit a green moon, 
And one may come to earth. 

Ard. Kiss me, MyHtta! 

Naught else will stop your mouth. O, dearest girls. 
No father's here to give me to my lord, 
And yet I smile, I wed. For why? — his love 
Is not in earth with his dear body. No! 
'Tis all about me here, bathing my heart, 
Now on my brow, now whispers at my ear, 
Now runs before my eyes to make a light 
Where they would rest. He loves this day as I dol 
Yet I had stayed this busking marriage 
Had not my brothers pressed me to such haste 
And peace not waited on it. Think, dear maidens, 
Peace everywhere! Avesta safe and free, 
And Oswald's sword in sheath — 

What is that chanting? 

Gaina. [Looking from parapet] A train comes up the 
heights. 

Mylitta. The English Lords! 

[Enter Barca, left] 

Ard. Barca, who comes? 

Barca. Prince Banissat, my lady. 

With all his court attending. 

Mirimond. Banissat ! 

This is a Christian wedding. 

Ard. We are at peace. 

Barca. He brings you gifts. Your brothers go to meet 
him. 

Ard. Where is Lord Bertrand? 

Barca. Near at hand. He comes 

This way. [Exit Barca, left] 

Ard. My girls, wouldst see what dainties lie 
In yonder chamber? 



K I D M I R 291 

Mylitta. Nay, we'll wait. 

Ard. Moonstones 

For golden hair — crescents and amber stars 
For tresses dark 

Girls. O! O! 

Ard. Veils of spun silver 

[Maidens hnzz through door right] 

Ard. Go, give them all ! 



Gaina. All, mistress? Not 

Ard. Go, go! 

[Exit Gaina. Bertrand enters y left. He is in princely 
costume] 

Ber. Art found, my heaven? 

Ard. Thou 'st not a fear thy Heaven 

Is lost in me? 

Ber. A doubt were my soul's shame. 

[Points up the heights] 
Does not yon giant cross arise to say 
Christ reigns on Kidmir? Far as Suli plain 
Men see the sun upon its silver sides 
And hands upborne in prayer forget the sword 
That sleeps unwakened. 

Ard. Will it sleep for long? 

Ber. Ay, else your father's death were devils' sport, 
Not Heaven's will. 

Ard. What word to-day from Oswald? 

Ber. You name him? 

Ard. Is he not our father? 

Ber. O, 

God's angel thou, not mine! 

Ard. Does Biondel 

Now wear the crown of Hon? 

Ber. That's confirmed. 

And Vigard has Ramoor. 

Ard. They profit much 

By their new faith. 



292 K I D M I R 

Ber, Do they not spare my life? 

So Oswald gives these crowns. You think he pays 
Too dear? 

Ard. O, barest alms! I'd have the earth, 
No less, — then want the sun, — ay, circling heaven, 
And yet be beggared losing thee! But they 
Must wear their purple o'er a Christian heart. 
I would not doubt . . . and yet. . . . 

Ber. They are the sons 

Of Charilus. 

Ard. And Banissat? 

Ber. He vows 

An endless peace with Suli. 

Ard. And you are Suli. 

Why am I fearful, knowing doubt is death? 

Ber. Come, love, look down — nay, farther, toward the 
sea. 
That sprawling mass that darkens now the plain, 
Seeming to hugely breathe and cloud-like move. 
Is Oswald's army making feast to-day. 
For I, the prince, go wiving. Now I seem 
To hear our names joined high in Heaven's air, 
And Christ, too, listens smiling, knowing one land. 
One throne is his forever. Sweet, 'twas he 
Drew me from sheltered cell and flowered garth 
To be his sovereign servant. He it was 
Who called through you, who cried in Charilus' death 
To wake my soul that shall not sleep again 
Till Love has garnered all these eastern lands. 

Ard. Amen, my husband-knight! I am content 
To be your love next Christ. Within your heart 
'Twill be sweet gleaning where he walks before. 

Ber. These words be your sole dower, for they hold 
More sun for me than shining gold ! 

Ard. The guests! 

Do you not hear them? Leave me now, my lord. 



K I D M I R 293 

Ber. Thank patience and my stars, we reach the end 
Of these stale ceremonies! Seven days 
Of long, superfluous rites to make you mine 
When our first kiss did wed us ! 

Ard. [Mocking] So ungentle 

To your proud honors, sir? Nay, it is fit 
Your wedding be as famous as your name, 
O, Prince of Suli! 

[Voices heard, left] 
Go, to come again! 
[Exit Bertrandy right. Ardia turns to enter her room and 

faces Vigard who comes on left. She draws her veil] 
Vig, Stay, sister. 

Ard. Would you have me seen? 

Vig. [Throws back her veil] Art fair 

Again? As Kidmir skies! 

Ard. It is my joy. 

[Enter left, Biondel, Banissat, and lords. Banissat pauses. 

The others pass off, right] 
Vig. [Taking Ardia' s hand to detain her] We have sur- 
prised our sister. 
Ban. Blest the hour! 

Now may I lay this gift within her hand — 
Poor gift, that has no worth until that hand 
Caresses it to splendor. 

[Kneels, offering her a small packet] 
Ard. [Taking packet] Courteous prince, 
My thanks. And more than thanks that you should 

climb 
Kidmir's uneasy steep to dearly grace 
This day — for smiles of friends, more than fair gifts, 
Do best adorn my bridal. [Draws her veil and moves right] 

Ban. Night is come, 

And through her mist the stars ! [Exit Ardia] 



294 K I D M I R 

Vig. Her bloom is washed 

Somewhat with tears for Charilus, but she 
Will flower again. 

Ban. Now by the Prophet's soul 

He who has kissed her lips had better 've kissed 
A flame of hell than so have touched 
What shall be mine! 

Vig. As thou dost love revenge. 

Be patient. 

Ban. Patience to the ox, to beasts 
That dream 'twixt cud and whip! Am I not man? 

Vig. You have endured, by truth. 

Ban. Endured ! 

Vig. And now 

Revenge! Ere night yon braggart cross shall bear 
A burden that will start Earl Oswald's eyes 
When he looks up from Suli plain. 

Ban. This day 

Shall see iti Come, once more let us look down. 
See where the hosts of Allah charge upon 
The sottish infidel! All yet is well. 
The banner o'er Avesta signals still 
The Prophet wins ! 

Vig. And when the tower of Suli 

Gleams with the hoisted crescent, we shall know 
Oswald is taken. 

Ban. Ha! There's no way out! 
The powers of Hon, Avesta, and Ramoor, 
Pen him in bloody triangle. Old rat. 
You're in the trap! I should be there, not here, — 
There at his throat 

Vig. Nay, here, my lord, you'll have 

Your dearest triumph. Please you now, go in. 
I'll watch here for the sign. 



K I D M I R 295 

Ban. Your watch be short. 

[Exit, right. Re-enter Ardia] 

Ard. [Holding out a flaming ornament] Brother, see this! 
The jewel of the house 
Of Banissat. 'Tis sacred to his name. 
I cannot take it, and he dare not give it. 

Vig. It seems he dared. 

Ard. What does he mean, dear Vigard.^ 

Vig. To honor SuH's princess as most fit. 

Ard. I tremble still from his deep look of fire. 
And when I saw this burn methought his eye 
Was yet upon me. 

Vig. Fool, go to your maidens! 

[Enter Barca, left, with Ramunin] 

Fi^. ^You're late, my man. 

Ram. And yet in season, sir. [Points up the heights] 
The cross is bare. 

Vig. Get you within. 

[Exeunt Barca and Ramunin, left] 

Now, sister — 
What, do you faint? 

Ard. That face! Ramunin's face. 

I saw it once, and shuddered many a day 
Remembering it. The public crucifier. 
Who serves the bloody prince of Antioch. 
The same. What does he here upon this day 
Of all the days of time? 

Vig. 'Tis by your wish 

That Kidmir gates are open. 

Ard. And by yours. 

Vig. Ay, let the world be witness you are made 
The honored bride of Suli. 

Ard. But Ramunin? 

He said the cross was bare. Why such a jest 



296 K I D M I R 

As horrid as his life? [Looking out] And all the knights 
That were to come from Oswald — where are they? 

Vig. They drank too deep last night for journeying 
Up Kidmir road — or else they dare not cross 
This outraged portal. 

Ard. Have we not forgiven? 

Ah, what is there? Look, Vigard, do you see? 
A floating crescent ! 

Vig. Where? 

Ard. 0*er Suli tower. 

O, this is Oswald's greeting to our house. 
Better than any band of armed knights! 
He lifts the Prophet's banner to his towers, 
Even as you set the Savior's crucifix 
On Kidmir! Now the one eternal God 
Lives in his sign when cross and crescent smile 
Love-set in the same heaven ! 

Vig. Allah be praised! 

Ard. And Christ — forget not Christ! 
Vig. We'll make an end now. 

[Exit, right] 
Ard. An end? Am I a bride — or sacrifice? 
[Goes in, right, at sound of approaching music. Enter, 
left, young musicians playing flutes and harps. They 
pause before altar, cross to right and seat themselves 
about Ardia's door. Guests enter, filling rear of hall, 
and parapet. A maiden comes on, dancing the grain- 
dance and scattering sesame. At the close of dance, Ar- 
dia*s maidens enter, each bearing a lighted candle which 
she places on the altar. A Greek chant is heard as 
priest approaches left. All wait his entrance, and the 
curtain falls, rising again on the close of the ceremony. 
Bertrand and Ardia stand centre. An aged priest at 
altar. Biondel and Banissat conspicuous among the 
guests. Vigard not seen] 



K I D M I R 297 

Bion. Is all now done? 

Priest. All 's done. The spouse of Suli 

May bow herself unto her master's feet, 
Bespeaking so the love that has no wish 
But service, no desire save her lord's will. 

[As Ardia would kneel, Bertrand prevents her] 

Ber. You shall not kneel. 

Ard. 'Tis custom, dear my lord. 

Ber. Then here it dies. 

Ard. My mother did so much 

For him who made her wife. 

Ber. Thy knees shall bend 

To God, and to none less. Reign at my side, 
Princess of Suli, not my feet. 

Bion. We hail 

The bride of Suli! 

Guests. Bride of Suli, hail! 

Vig. [Unseen] Ho! Seize the traitor! Ho! 

[Enter Ramunin, right, and armed guards] 

Ber. Who speaks? And who 

Is traitor here? 

Vig. Thou, foulest murderer! 

Ber. Who speaks? 

Vig. Dead Charilus. 

Ard, 'Tis Vigard's voice. 

[Vig ard steps forth] 
What, Vigard, art thou mad? Wouldst shatter the globe 
Of Heaven? 

Vig. Nay, it was broken that same hour 
When died our father. 

Ber. Son of Charilus, speak 

Your will. If you demand my life, 'tis yours. 
I hold it by your gentle lease and love. 
But while I ask not one poor breath for me, 
I beg you pause, nor cast the innocent 



298 K I D M I R 

To feed the vengeful and life-reaping fire 
Oswald will kindle for his hapless son. 

Vig. You think no fires will burn but of his kindling? 

Ard. O shame! The crescent over Suli greets 
The cross on Kidmir! 

Vig. Ay, the crescent flies 

From Suli, thanks to faithful Moslem hands 
That set it there. 

Ard. Ah .... Moslem hands? 

Vig. You fool, 

To think that Oswald fluttered compliments. 
When he was dreaming how he'd bid you drink 
Of that same cup he gave to Charilus! 

Ban. Now, dearest lady, you are safe. To-day 
The Faithful battled with the infldel, 
And that bright crescent is the silent sign 
We have the victory. Ramoor and Hon 
With pointed sword bore down on either side 
The glutted, drunken army, while in front 
Avesta like a whirlwind swept 

Ard. O, traitor! 

You vowed unbroken peace with Suli! 

Ban. Yea, 

Will keep it too, for I am Suli now. 

Ard. [To her brothers] Were you not sworn to Christ? 

Bion. We are the Prophet's. 

Ard. O, Heaven, hear not this ! And Oswald's knights? 

Vig. Sleep in A vesta's dungeons. 

Bion. Banissat, 

Avesta's golden prince, speak you the doom 
Of Bertrand 

Ard. Doom? O 



Ber. Do not waste the breath 

A kiss may save. A thousand times, your lips! 
Ard. [To Biondel] Let him not die! 



! 



K I D M I R 299 

Vig. You'll pray soon that he may! 
Speak, noble prince. 

Ban. I, lord of conquered Suli, 

Condemn the son of Oswald unto death 
By crucifixion. Be his body nailed 
Upon the cross now raised on Kidmir peak, 
That Oswald may behold his groaning son, 
And every Christian dog look up and see 
How dies the Prophet's enemy. 
[To Rajnunin] Away! 
Prick him with delicate tortures that yet leave 
Him heart to heave his agony. Hear you! 
If he live not three days upon the cross 
Yourself shall hang beside him. 

Ram. I've a hand 

Has had some practice, sir. 

Ban. We know it, fellow. 

And therefore we employ you. 

Ram. I put the nails 

In young Deobus, he who hung five days 
'Twixt heaven and earth, and to the fifth eve groaned 
As he w^ould pull his heart up. I've a medal 
Struck by the city for it. 

Ban. I will match it, 

If you match me the service. 

Ram. That I'll do. 

These English have strong hearts — will suck at Pain 
As life were in her dugs. 

[Exit Ramunin, guards, and Bertrand. Priest and guests 
follow. The maidens huddle at door, right] 

Bion. Sister, you stare 

Too hardly on this grief. It is a woe 
That Heaven smiles on, and the cure now waits 
In Banissat's fair mercy. You shall be 
His royal wife, and Suli's princess still. 



300 K I D M I R 

Vig. Speak to the prince. 

Ban. Nay, let her hear my vow. 
P, star of Kidmir, dear and beautiful, 
I'll set thee in a bosom that shall be 
A tender heaven round thee. Beat to earth 
Is murmurous suspicion, and again 
You shine unto the world, swept free of taint 
By noble marriage with most careful rites 

Ard. I doubt, I doubt! One part, one point, one rite. 
Broken in act, left gaping and divided. 
One half performed, one half left all undone, 
Leaves me dishonored still. She is not widowed 
Who was not wife 

Vig. All's done! What more canst wish? 

Ard. To lay my forehead on my husband's feet, 
Which by the ancient custom of our house 
Is maidhood's closing act, as 'tis the first 
Of wifehood true. This thou wilt grant 

Vig. You're bound 

By rites enough! 

Bion. Canst stand uncertain on 

So slight a matter? 

Ard. Slight? Ah, you know naught 

Of woman ! Teach him, prince, that not a nick, 
Or turn, or shade of custom would she spare 
From this most holy ceremony. Wanting but 
The smallest portion that gives leave to say 
The measure lacks, she all her life will grieve. 
Shed secret tears, and wear a blanchen face 
When none knows why. 

Bion. You shall not move us. Peace! 

Vig. A brawling fancy! 

Ard. Avesta's prince, thou who 

Shalt be my lord, if any lord of earth 
Be mine again, wouldst have my love, or hate? 



K I D M I R 301 

Ban. Thy love, fair Ardia. 

Ard. Then I pray you, sir, 

Move thy forbearance yet one farther step 
And pluck this boon for me. 'Tis near thy hand. 
And O, how small a thing for you to give. 
But as the sun of all my days to me! 
Without it I may die 

Ban. Speak not of death. So sweet 

I'll shelter thee, Death's self must bloom 
If he creep near thy bower. 

Ard. May I, my lord. 

Keep honored place by thee when memory mocks 
That place and honor? Grant me this, but this. 
And here I swear if any act of man 
May move a widowed heart, mine shall grow warm 
To thee! 

Ban. Do you speak truth? 

Ard. Believe me, sir. 

So dear a thing is this for which I sue. 
That he who gives it must grow dear thereby; 
And if he lift to him my prostrate life. 
This gentle moment shall immortal be 
And sweeten every hour we pass together. 
Remembering this, my captive breast shall be 
His free dominion, and my lips on his. 
If they know warmth, shall take it from this cause. 
This first dear tenderness. 

Ban. We'll please you, mistress. 

Bring in the man again. 

[Exit a guard] 

Vig. I beg you, prince 

Ban. By Allah, she shall have her beggar wish. 
For no more reason than she wishes it ! 

Vig. It is her sickish humor, sir, to look 
On him again. All this wild pother means 
No more than that. 



S02 K I D M I R 

Ban. No more? We'll please her then 
For our good peace to come. 

Bion. A princely kindness. 

[They talk together. Ardia crosses to altar] 

Ard. Now one more miracle! God live in me, 
And Christ direct my hand! 

Bion. What do you say. 

My sister? 

Ard. But a word to mine own heart. 

Ban. Nay, mine now, is it not? 

Ard. So much of it 

As dearest lenience may buy, my lord. 

[Bertrand is brought in guarded] 

Bion. The man is here. Now have your foolish will. 

[Ardia turns and looks at Bertrand. He is stripped of his 
rich dress and wears only a girdled tunic falling to his 
knees. Arms and feet are bare] 

Ban. [To Bertrand] Sir, we permit the lady of our soul 
To end as her heart wills the rite that makes 
Her wife and widow. Touch her not, nor speak. 
[Bertrand crosses to altar] 

Ard. Why should we touch, when souls inhabit eyes 
And journey on a look? My heaven-lord, 
Here is no priest to bless this act of mine, 
But God will know his altar and the gift 
I lay upon it. The life we thought to live — 
That might have failed, and killed the dream now safe 
From tarnish of the days. Earth has enough 
Of blind and baffled lives, but great her need 
Of dreams. And ours we leave with her, unworn, 
Unpaled, warm round the love-seed she shall nurse 
To million-budded life. 

Bion. Come, make an end! 

Ard. An end of love? The God of all the worlds 
Cannot do that. Love born this darkest day 



K I D M I R 303 

Shall be in flower on man's millennial path 
And touch his step with Heaven. 

Vig. Peace! Be done! 

Ard. Ay . . done. My lord, think thou art in the 
world 
Celestial, and from there smile on me — now — 

[Draws dagger from her bosom and stabs him. He falls] 
High God, as thou art Love, I struck for thee! 

[Bends over body] 
True aim. Full in the heart. I know the place. 
For there my home is — there I live — and now 
My house is down, I, too, must fall 

Ban. I'll pay thee! 

What hast thou done? 

Ard. What done? A miracle! 
Who now can harm my love? 

Ban. Your promises! 

Your oaths ! 

Ard. I'd keep them, sir — ay, every one, 

If grief would let me live to be your wife. 
But I am weary, and my heavy stars 
Have left their skies to hang upon me here. 
My veins are empty, all their strength is out. 
Does 't take so much to lift this little blade 
And let it fall again? 

[Biondel takes the dagger from her] 
Think you I need 
So poor a thing? Nay, God has struck for me, 
As I for Him. I go with Vairdelan. [Kneels by body] 
Look on this brow, if shame will let ye look. 
An angel shaped it. Ye've unfashioned here 
The work of Heaven. Sweet lips, no roses left? 
Your hand, my lord, and now the sinless star. [Dies] 

[Curtain] 



NOV 29 1912 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 

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